Halkbank shares rise after U.S. appeals court pauses sanction-busting trial

Shares for Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank jumped by as much as 8 percent on Tuesday after a U.S. appeals court agreed to pause a case against it on charges of circumventing sanctions on Iran, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

The shares were up by 6.7 percent on Tuesday morning after surging to 8 percent, Reuters said.

Halkbank has been indicted for its alleged part in a scheme that saw the government of Iran move millions of dollars past U.S. sanctions.

A former executive at the bank, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was convicted for his role in the scheme in 2018, and was released last October after serving a 32-month prison sentence.

Halkbank’s lawyers say the United States does not have jurisdiction over the bank since it does not have branches or offices in the country.

The charges were brought against the bank last October after U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration prepared sanctions on Turkey for launching an offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria.

This marked a rare point of friction between Trump’s administration and that of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with whom the U.S. president is known to have warm relations.

News reports by Bloomberg and other U.S. outlets last year said Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani had intervened in the Halkbank case to try to have the charges dropped.

U.S. Senate Finance Committee member Ron Wyden, a Democrat, said he sent a letter on Monday to Attorney General William Barr to enquire about Trump’s alleged involvement in the case.

Without the Turkish operation in Syria, Wyden said he was concerned “the administration’s interference in favour of Turkey’s Halkbank requests could have undermined years of effort by U.S. law enforcement.”