Dec 12 2017

What if Turkey’s Halkbank refuses to pay U.S. fine?

Many in Turkey believe the ongoing U.S. sanctions trial of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla will result in a large fine for state-owned Halkbank where he worked, and possibly several other Turkish banks too, but what if they simply refused to pay?

“Doubtless companies could choose not to pay,” international relations scholar İlhan Uzgel wrote on the leftist website GazeteDuvar. “But in that situation they would be left outside the American finance system, and given that this would not only leave them unable to do business in the U.S. but also create the risk that they would not be able to deal in dollars, none would consider this option.”

The reason for that, Uzgel said, was that a vast proportion of international trade was still carried out in dollars and that the power of the United States to isolate a bank or other business had increased due to modern technology.

So why is this system, which gives the United States the effective privilege to sanction businesses worldwide in a way that no other country can, accepted by other countries?

Uzgel said initially there had been a lot of resistance to this power, especially from the European Union and Canada, but in times of more recent sanctions, these powers have also had a common interest in the United States achieving its stated objectives, and their protests have been muted.

“The U.S. appears to have turned the sanctions card into a vehicle for maintaining its hegemonic position,” he said. “This has played a role both in the problems that have emerged in the global economy and in the discomfort caused by the Chinese rise to power.”