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Turkish Banking Team Plans Iran Visit to Resolve Halkbank Dispute

Turkish Banking Team to Resolve Halkbank Dispute Turkish Banking Team to Resolve Halkbank Dispute

A delegation from the Central Bank of Turkey will soon meet their Iranian counterparts in Tehran to remove hurdles in the way of bilateral banking relations, particularly difficulties involving Iranian citizens' bank accounts in the Turkish Halkbank, an Iranian central bank official said.    

The meeting comes after Iran-Turkey banking ties were overshadowed by the detention of a senior Halkbank official in the US in March for allegedly violating Iran sanctions. The incident caused problems for Iranian business transactions with the major state-owned lender in their neighboring country.

"Considering the events that have taken place, we have invited officials with the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey to travel to Iran, which they accepted,"   Hossein Yaqoubi, director general of the Central Bank of Iran for international affairs, told Fars News Agency.

Yaqoubi hoped that in the upcoming meeting between Turkish officials and their Iranian counterparts, difficulties facing Iranian citizens will be resolved.

In late March, a senior executive at Halkbank, one of Turkey's largest state-owned banks, was arrested in the US on charges of conspiring to evade trade sanctions on Iran.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla is accused of conspiring with Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader, to channel hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system on behalf of Iranian companies.

Yaqoubi was also quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA that "we have no problems with the Turkish Halkbank", but the bank has undergone changes in its management.

"Negotiations are underway with Halkbank to remove hurdles and develop exchanges," he said, adding that some of the troubles relate to anti-money laundering regulations because if the Turkish bank was found to have broken any rules, it would face serious repercussions from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of  the US Treasury Department.   

According to a source in the Iran-Turkey Chamber of Commerce, Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci is also scheduled to visit Iran by the end of the current month on June 21 to negotiate a preferential trade agreement between the two sides.

Petchem Revenue Clearance

 

On a different note, Yaqoubi elaborated on problems that have arisen regarding the transfer of foreign exchange belonging to Iranian petrochemical companies from China.

"We have investigated the matter thoroughly and it revolves around the fact that the Chinese want the certificate of origin that has been sent to them to be confirmed by an official Iranian entity," he said.

A number of Iranian petrochemical firms have been unable to collect revenues for their exports to China.

The CBI official noted that petrochemical companies and other companies exporting to China would previously provide them certificates of origin that would suffice, but as a result of tougher regulations on combating money laundering, Chinese banks now demand to be connected to an official system to verify the documents.

Greater scrutiny is enforced on Iran and Iranian businessmen, "therefore we must ramp up our efforts to increase transparency", Yaqoubi concluded.

 

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