Turkey’s Halkbank urges dismissal of Iran sanctions criminal case in U.S – Reuters

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Halkbank on Friday urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the state-owned Turkish loan company of aiding Iran evade American sanctions, even as it seeks the judge’s recusal for alleged bias.

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FILE Image: People today walk past by a department of Halkbank in central Istanbul, Turkey, January 22, 2020. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

At a hearing in Manhattan federal courtroom, a attorney for Halkbank reported its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.

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The U.S. Department of Justice charged Halkbank past October with working with revenue servicers and front firms in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to evade sanctions, empower income from oil and fuel gross sales to be spent on gold, and facilitate sham food stuff and medication buys.

Halkbank has pleaded not guilty to financial institution fraud, cash laundering and conspiracy fees, which include more than its alleged transfer of $20 billion of in any other case limited Iranian resources.

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Simon Latcovich, a attorney for Halkbank, told U.S. District Choose Richard Berman its alleged carry out had only “incidental” U.S. ties, and did not qualify for an exception to sovereign immunity governing business activity.

“We’re speaking about processing Iranian oil and normal fuel transactions,” Latcovich mentioned. “By definition, this is the form of activity that cannot be exercised by personal citizens, producing it sovereign, and not professional.”

Prosecutor Sidhardha Kamaraju explained it was plenty of that some limited cash moved by means of U.S. banking institutions for Halkbank to facial area legal legal responsibility.

“It is the routing of $1 billion of Iranian oil proceeds, by the U.S. financial system, that violates U.S. sanctions laws,” Kamaraju reported.

The listening to followed a Thursday night refusal by the federal appeals courtroom in Manhattan to enable Halkbank hold off the situation though it appeals Berman’s refusal to recuse himself.

Berman has rejected bias statements, creating past 7 days that Halkbank experienced “astonishingly and falsely” claimed he supported an alleged terrorist group bent on gaining control of Turkey’s governing administration.

The choose did not rule on Halkbank’s dismissal ask for. A demo stays scheduled for March one, 2021.

The situation is U.S. v Halkbank, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-00867.

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