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04 February 2020

Halkbank wins reprieve in US prosecution over Iran sanctions

While Halkbank does almost no business in the US, it has some ties to the nation’s financial system, which the government could limit or sever

A senior bank executive was previously convicted in the case and a money launderer pleaded guilty to charges of orchestrating the scheme/Bloomberg

by Bloomberg

A federal appeals court has granted a temporary halt in the US prosecution of Turkey’s Halkbank over Iran sanctions violation charges while it weighs other requests by the bank.

Halkbank had previously sought to pursue a dismissal of the case without entering a plea on the charges. In December 2019, a judge denied the request and the bank is appealing that ruling. A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will weigh the request on an expedited basis.

Prosecutors have deemed Halkbank a fugitive from justice, asking a judge to hold it in contempt and impose fines until it begins answering the charges.

State-owned Halkbank was charged in October 2019 with helping Iran access billions of dollars in oil revenue that had been frozen in its accounts under US sanctions. A senior bank executive was previously convicted in the case and a money launderer pleaded guilty to charges of orchestrating the scheme.

The US said that Halkbank has consistently sought to avoid responsibility for its role in a massive sanctions-evasion and money-laundering scheme that gave Iran access to billions of dollars’ worth of restricted oil proceeds.

The US argued that Halkbank improperly ignored an initial summons, intentionally frustrated efforts to serve the summons and indictment, attacked the charges in the press and failed to show up for a required court appearance.

The US pursuit of Halkbank has been a sore point in relations between the two countries, prompting Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to press US President Donald Trump to intervene.


RELATED STORIES: US President Donald Trump Recep Tayyip Erdogan Halkbank





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