Business And Markets

Halkbank’s Prosecution Put on Hold in US Court

Halkbank’s Prosecution Put on Hold in US Court
Halkbank’s Prosecution Put on Hold in US Court

A US appeals court put the federal government's prosecution of Turkish state-owned lender Halkbank for allegedly helping Iran evade American sanctions on hold while the bank appeals to the US Supreme Court.
Friday's order from the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan allows Halkbank to appeal without having to defend against the criminal case at the same time. It expressed no view on the merit of an appeal, newswires said. 
The US Department of Justice had opposed a delay, saying Halkbank's "meritless" claims neither raised "substantial" questions nor overcame the public interest in a speedy trial.
Halkbank has pleaded not guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy over its alleged use of money servicers and front companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to evade sanctions.
Its alleged misconduct includes helping Iran secretly transfer $20 billion of restricted funds, including $1 billion “laundered” through the US financial system, and converting oil revenue into gold and then cash to benefit Iranian interests.
The US attorney's office in Manhattan and US-based lawyers for Halkbank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In an Oct. 22 decision, the 2nd Circuit said Halkbank could be prosecuted because its alleged misconduct involved commercial activity that was not covered by sovereign immunity.
Halkbank said that decision conflicted with the supreme court precedents as it "greenlights the first criminal trial of a foreign sovereign in the nation's history."
It also said it would suffer irreparable harm if forced to defend against "a case from which it is immune."
The court denies most appeals. In its last term it received 5,307 filings and heard arguments in only 72 cases.

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