The Istanbul public prosecutor's office today announced the launch of an investigation into social media accounts claiming the United States had decided on the amount to fine the Turkish state-owned Halkbank for its involvement in breaking sanctions on Iran, the left-wing Birgün newspaper reported on Friday.
The prosecutor's office insisted that no such decision had been made and said that social media users claiming otherwise intended to harm Halkbank, "an important Turkish institution."
U.S. authorities are set to punish the state-run Halkbank for breaking sanctions on Iran after the bank's former deputy general manager, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was sentenced to 32 months in prison by a U.S. federal court on May 17.
Atilla was found guilting of setting up mechanisms through Halkbank which allowed Iran to move its money internationally by trading gold and imaginary food exports.
Some Twitter and Facebook users this week shared posts saying that U.S. authorities had decided on the amount of the penalty, much more than $9 billion that some have been predicting. Some speculate such a fine would potentially be enough to spark a financial crisis.
The posts also claim that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has sent a delegation to the United States asking for the announcement of the verdict to be delayed until after the elections on Jun. 24.
The prosecutor’s office said today that those posts harmed the credibility and reputation of Halkbank and violated article 107 of Turkish capital markets law regulating fraud.