TEHRAN, Apr. 13 (MNA) – Turkey's Halkbank urges end of US prosecution alleging Iran sanctions violations.
According to Reuters, a lawyer for Halkbank told a US appeals court that the state-owned Turkish lender was immune from US prosecution and that an indictment accusing it of helping Iran evade American sanctions should be thrown out.
In arguments before the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, Halkbank’s lawyer Simon Latcovich said the US government had no basis to assert criminal jurisdiction over the bank, and that the bank was “synonymous” with Turkey for purposes of immunity.
Halkbank has pleaded not guilty to bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy charges over its alleged use of money servicers and front companies in Iran, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates to evade sanctions.
Prosecutors accused the bank of converting oil revenue into gold and then cash to benefit Iranian interests and documenting fake food shipments to justify transfers of oil proceeds.
They also accused Halkbank of helping Iran secretly transfer $20 billion of restricted funds, with at least $1 billion laundered through the US financial system.
The case has complicated US-Turkish relations, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan urging Halkbank’s innocence in a 2018 memo to former US President Donald Trump.
Latcovich argued on Monday that the bank was immune from prosecution under the federal Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.