A Halkbank lawyer advised a US appeals courtroom that an indictment accusing Turkey’s state-owned lender of serving to Iran escape sanctions needs to be dismissed as a result of the financial institution is within the shelter from prosecution.
In oral argument earlier than the 2nd American Circuit Courtroom of Appeals in Manhattan, Halkbank lawyer Simon Latcovich mentioned the US authorities had no foundation for asserting felony jurisdiction and that the financial institution was “synonymous” of the Turkish State for the needs of immunity.
Latcovich claimed the financial institution has immunity claims beneath the Overseas Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which units limits on whether or not a overseas nation may be indicted in a U.S. courtroom.
US courtroom upholds conviction of Turkish banker in Iran sanctions case
Nonetheless, US Assistant Prosecutor Sidhardha Kamaraju mentioned Halkbank’s declare was a “dramatic extension” of FSIA, and didn’t apply to felony instances.
“For many years the Supreme Courtroom and this courtroom have explicitly said that the FSIA is the whole set of authorized provisions governing civil actions,” Kamaraju mentioned. mentionned on the 45-minute listening to, as quoted by Courthouse Information Service. “The courtroom by no means prolonged it to felony actions.”
He added that the Turkish financial institution “was making an attempt to equate the instrumentality of a overseas state with a overseas state itself”.
US circuit decide Jose Cabranes, who’s presiding over the case, additionally appeared unlikely to rule in favor of Halkbank, citing that a number of executives of the lender had been indicted.
The case has been delayed indefinitely as a result of a keep pending enchantment from Halkbank and likewise as a result of Covid-19 pandemic.
US prosecutors in October 2019 Posted an indictment of six counts in opposition to Halkbank, together with financial institution fraud and cash laundering, for an alleged “multibillion greenback ploy to evade US sanctions in opposition to Iran”.
Prosecutors accused him of changing oil revenues into gold and money for Tehran’s profit, and likewise of serving to the Islamic Republic secretly switch $ 20 billion in earmarked funds, of which at the least $ 1 billion was laundered via the US monetary system.
Halkbank has pleaded not responsible to the costs and is at present interesting a decision final October, this allowed the pursuit to proceed.
The Halkbank affair is one in every of quite a lot of key points which have strained relations between NATO allies Washington and Ankara.
In 2018, the financial institution’s deputy managing director, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was convicted and sentenced to 2 years and eight months in jail on comparable fees in opposition to the state financial institution.
Reza Zarrab, a gold dealer based mostly in Turkey, had pleaded guilty in the identical case and testified in opposition to Atilla.
Zarrab mentionned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister, personally approved a transaction on behalf of Iran.
On the time, Erdogan mentionned that the Gulen motion, which the Turkish authorities accuse of orchestrating a failed coup try, was complicit within the Zarrab trial.
The Turkish President has would have pressured the previous Donald Trump administration to drop the case, with Erdogan writing Trump a memo in 2018 insisting that Halkbank is harmless, in keeping with a memoir by the previous US adviser to the nationwide safety John Bolton. Trump then advised Erdogan he would “care for issues.”
Final month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet along with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at a NATO summit, nevertheless it was not clear whether or not the present case had been raised throughout the talks.