Senior Good Party official detained for bank fine tweet

A senior official from the nationalist opposition Good Party has been detained by police in Turkey for tweeting that the state-run Halkbank would receive a hefty fine for its involvement in a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Police detained Kerim Yılmaz, a High Advisory Board member for the Good Party, on Wednesday, as part of an investigation into social media posts that Halkbank complained had damaged its reputation.

Halkbank hit international headlines in December last year as a former executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, stood trial for running falsified transactions through the bank to break U.S. sanctions on Iran. Atilla received a 32-month sentence after being found guilty on five of six charges.

Halkbank is still waiting to hear a figure for its expected fine, which analysts have speculated could be high enough to spark a crisis in a country already in a tight economic situation.

Prosecutors began investigating social media users last week for posts alleging that the fine would be far higher than expected, which they said “harmed the credibility and reputation of Halkbank and violated article 107 of Turkish capital markets law regulating fraud.”

Yılmaz has been detained in the scope of that investigation after a complaint by lawyers from Halkbank, according to a report in Milliyet newspaper.

A widely shared tweet from Yılmaz’s account on May 24 claimed the Halkbank fine had been set at $49 billion and the AKP had sent a delegation to the United States to plead for the announcement of the fine to be delayed until after elections are held on Jun. 24, attributing the information to "banking sources".

Yilmaz tweet