Halkbank rejects US claims over Iran sanctions

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Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank has denied any wrongdoing after U.S. prosecutors charged the lender with partaking in a scheme to evade U.S sanctions on Iran.

The six-count indictment against the bank includes conspiracy to defraud the U.S., conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

U.S. federal prosecutors filed charges on Oct. 15 against Halkbank in a Manhattan federal court.

Hakan Atilla, the former deputy director-general at the Turkish state lender, was sentenced in May 2018 in New York for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

In July this year, he was released from a federal prison.

“The indictment appears largely to repeat allegations used during the Atilla trial, retrying the same attacks against the bank,” the state lender said in a statement yesterday issued to Borsa Istanbul, noting that these charges were filed while Atilla’s appeal is still underway.

In the statement, the bank outright rejected claims that it was engaged in any secondary U.S. sanctions violations.

“Furthermore, since the bank does not have any branches or employees based in the United States, it falls outside the Department of Justice’s jurisdiction. Therefore, the decision to indict is an unprecedented legal overreach,” Halkbank said.

The bank added that the U.S Attorney’s Office failed to adequately consider the information Halkbank provided which included a substantial amount of highly relevant evidence pertaining to the allegations.

“These were filed as part of the sanctions introduced against our country by the U.S. government in response to Operation Peace Spring, heroically launched by the Turkish Army to secure our borders and establish peace in the region,” the statement added.

The bank said it will exert all legitimate rights against this unwarranted case under international law.

Hurriyet Daily News

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