An appeals court in the US has decided to suspend the federal government’s lawsuit against the bank pending Halkbank’s appeal to the US Supreme Court.
According to Reuters, the decision of the 2nd US Court of Appeals in Manhattan today gave Halkbank the opportunity to appeal without having to defend the case. No comments were made on the merits of the decision.
The US Department of Justice, on the other hand, opposed this postponement, stating that ‘Halkbank’s illegitimate claims do not raise important questions, nor do they prevail over the public interest for a speedy trial’.
Attorneys for the US Attorney General’s Office in Manhattan and US-based Halkbank did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
On October 22, 2021, the US court of appeals ruled that Halkbank could face trial on charges of refusing its application and causing it to circumvent US sanctions against Iran.
After being accused of violating the sanctions against Iran, Halkbank applied for the annulment of the trial, arguing that “Halkbank is synonymous with Turkey, and therefore cannot be prosecuted in the United States under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA)”.
The US Court of Appeals 2, on the other hand, had decided that even though Halkbank was under protection under the FSIA, “the charges fell within the scope of the commercial activity exception”.
Halkbank appealed to the US Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court dismisses most appeals.
Only 72 of the 5,307 applications made in the last period were seen.
What is Halkbank accused of?
In the US, prosecutors accuse Halkbank of turning oil revenues into gold and then cash, causing it to be used for Iran’s benefit, while creating fake food trade documents to justify the gains.
Halkbank helped Iran to secretly transfer $20 billion from banned funds; It is claimed that at least $1 billion of this money was laundered in the US financial system.
Halkbank, on the other hand, denies accusations that it used companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to make fraudulent banking transactions, money laundering and collusion.
Halkbank filed an appeal in February 2021 for the decision of US District Court Judge Richard Berman that the bank could be prosecuted.
Previously, it was decided to start the case on May 3, but due to the appeal, the trial was suspended until the decision of the higher court.
The court was expected to set a new date for the first hearing after the top court rejected the appeal.
Judge Richard Berman had also heard other cases related to the Halkbank case.
Richard Berman was the judge in the cases of Reza Zarrab (Rıza Sarraf), who was in a key position in the aforementioned scheme in the case where former Halkbank Deputy General Manager Hakan Atilla was found guilty.