Halkbank granted reprieve in sanctions case from US court

Pedro Gonçalves
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Halkbank granted reprieve in sanctions case from US court

A US appeals court in Manhattan granted Turkish state lender Halkbank a temporary pause in its Iran sanctions evasion case.

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.

Halkbank was charged in October with attempts to evade US sanctions on Iran.

Shared concerns that president Trump was granting personal favours to the autocratic leader of Turkey"

A court denied in early December Halkbank's request to make a "special and limited appearance" in order to have the case dropped without having to formally participate in proceedings.

District Court Judge Richard Berman said Halkbank and its counsel failed to appear at an Oct. 22 hearing and that in so doing, it "willfully and knowingly disobeyed the Court's order."

A second hearing held on Nov. 5 saw Halkbank's counsel, listed as King & Spalding, appear but with the sole intent of seeking permission for the "special and limited appearance."

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.

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

The case has become a persistent thorn in the side of Turkey's president, Recep Erdogan, who has pressed President Donald Trump to intervene.

A Senate Democrat investigating U.S. President Donald Trump's interference in a Department of Justice probe and prosecution of Turkey's state-owned Halkbank is seeking Attorney General William Barr's recusal from the case, Court House News reported on Monday.

Senator Ron Wyden's request arrives amid reports that Ambassador John Bolton told Barr that president Trump has a compromised relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it said.

"Recent reports indicate that you and former national security adviser John R. Bolton shared concerns that president Trump was granting personal favours to the autocratic leader of Turkey," Court House News quoted Wyden as saying in a four-page letter.

 

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