Turkey, US treasury chiefs meet at Davos amid Halkbank row

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Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and US Treasury Secretary of Steve Mnuchin met at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Hürriyet daily reported, without further elaborating, a few days after US prosecutors demanded an escalating fine on Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank in a trial for evading sanctions on Iran.

Such a penalty “is an appropriate and necessary sanction to apply a sufficient coercive pressure to cause the defendant to cease its contempt and appear in this matter,” prosecutors said.

US prosecutors announced fraud and money laundering charges in the case on Oct. 15, saying Halkbank and its executives used money servicers and front companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to evade sanctions.

Prosecutors also said Halkbank undertook transactions on Iran’s behalf that would have exposed the bank to sanctions, including allowing revenue from oil and gas sales to be spent on gold, and facilitating sham purchases of food and medicine.

Last month US District Judge Richard Berman, who oversees the case, rejected Halkbank’s request to put the case on hold.

US Treasury officials in November confirmed that Mnuchin had attended a White House lunch with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Courthouse News Service reported.

The revelation came a month into US Senator Ron Wyden’s investigation of Halkbank, the Turkish state-run bank accused of the biggest money-laundering scheme ever charged in US history.

Turkish Minute

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