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Turkish Halkbank linked US allegations with the invasion of Syria, Reuters reported.

US prosecutors have accused Halkbank of participating in a multi-billion dollar scheme to avoid US sanctions against Iran. In response, Halkbank shares fell 7% on Wednesday.

The indictment was brought the day after the US imposed sanctions on Turkish officials, raised tariffs, and terminated trade talks in connection with Turkey’s military invasion of northern Syria. According to the indictment, Turkey’s second largest state bank committed fraud, money laundering and other sanctioned crimes. Although the US District Attorney did not associate the charges with the sanctions against Syria, Halkbank did so.

The statement notes that the allegations are part of the US sanctions against Turkey in response to operation in Syria, heroically launched by the Turkish army to ensure the security of our borders and establish peace in the region.

Halkbank said it did not violate the sanction, it is alleged, and is not within the jurisdiction of the US Department of Justice because it does not have branches or employees in the United States. Therefore, the decision to indict is an unprecedented legal violation.

The case against Halkbank follows from a previous criminal case launched in 2016 against Turkish-Iranian gold merchant Reza Zarrab, who was accused of playing a central role in the sanctions evasion scheme.

Erdogan told reporters in Ankara the Halkbank issue was “supposedly closed. But now they have taken an unlawful, ugly step with the southern New York prosecutors opening it again.” 

“We will see the decision they will take, and we will (respond) accordingly,” he added.

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