Nov 20 2017

Turkey amends banking law before possible U.S. Halkbank decision

Turkey's government amended its banking law ahead of possible U.S. fines against state-run Halkbank and other lenders for their alleged role in circumventing sanctions on Iran.

The legal changes, published in the government's Official Gazette, allow banks to end their legal status and transfer assets to third-party companies without shutting down operations.

Hakan Atilla, deputy chief executive of Halkbank, is due to go on trial in New York on Nov. 27 accused of illegally channelling hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. banking system to break the sanctions. His former boss, Süleyman Arslan, and ex-Economy Minister Zafer Cağlayan have also been indicted but remain outside the country. Co-defendant Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman, has left jail and may have turned state's witness.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said at the weekend that U.S. investigations into the sanctions-busting only relate to one Turkish bank.

To read full details of the amendment in Turkish