U.S. judge rejects law firm's appeal to appear in court on Halkbank's behalf

A judge in New York on Wednesday rejected an appeal by litigators from law firm King & Spalding to appear in court on Halkbank's behalf in a money laundering and sanctions evasion case filed against it.

"The Government respectfully submits this letter in opposition to the request by King & Spalding LLP to enter a special appearance on behalf of Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. ("Halkbank" or the "defendant") to file a motion to dismiss the indictment," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a written motion, asking the U.S. federal judge Richard Berman to dismiss Halkbank's request.

After U.S. judge called the majority state-owned bank a fugitive after having no representation at the proceedings in the trial last month, on Tuesday, denied its request for a special representation.

Representatives of Halkbank did not appear in court to argue against the charges filed against it after failing to show up for a previously scheduled summons on Oct. 22, a week after the initial charges were filed against it by federal prosecutors.

Instead, King & Spalding signed on to represent Halkbank for what it calls the limited and special purpose of challenging the Oct. 15 indictment.

"Halkbank can seek recusal or challenge the indictment on any ground permitted by law, but it cannot remain a fugitive," journalist Adam Klasfeld quoted U.S. prosecutors as saying, adding that the judge requests a hearing to hold it in contempt.

U.S. Attorney Lockard earlier said Halkbank was in contempt for not appearing in court following the failure of the bank’s U.S.lawyer to appear before the judge after U.S. prosecutors served a summons.

Manhattan prosecutors issued an indictment on Oct. 16 against Halkbank on charges of engaging in a multi-billion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, for which Turkey has long been pressuring U.S. authorities to drop charges. The case could result in heavy fines and barring Halkbank from the U.S. financial system.