Dec 09 2017

Halkbank is not bound by U.S. sanctions, lawyer says

(Updates after TRT World restored the original article with new paragraphs.*)

The trial against a former executive at Turkish state lender Halkbank for evading U.S. sanctions against Iran has no legal grounds, wrote Yeşim Mehmet, a lawyer for Turkish public broadcaster TRT’s English service.

Mehmet wrote:

It doesn't matter how much evidence the U.S. court has that the deputy manager of a bank in Turkey was aware of the sanctions – most people are generally aware of the sanctions imposed on Iran – what matters is that the bank in Turkey and its manager are not actually bound by U.S. sanctions or any such regulations in the U.S.

The sanctions imposed in the U.S. have no legal standing in Turkey whatsoever unless they are ratified by Turkey.

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control has fined other banks before, therefore a hefty fine to Turkey is inevitable since Halkbank is a state bank, Mehmet said, but those money-laundering cases were settled without the criminal proceedings, she added, asking whether the trial is more about "bullying" Turkey into abiding by U.S. sanctions.



* The original article was initially deleted (resolved to 404 page) on TRT World some time after it was shared on Twitter by its author. The opinion section unlisted it, and the author deleted her original tweet. An archived copy, however, showed the article existed.

Daily Sabah, a pro-government newspaper, republished the article, also providing the original hyperlink.

Later, TRT World republished the article by adding 7 new paragraphs to better explain U.S. Office of the Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) practices. Daily Sabah and Anews, an affiliate, also synced their content with the updates by the public broadcaster.