Trump instructed top official on Halkbank to please Turkey - CNN
U.S. President Donald Trump ordered Attorney General William Barr to drop charges against state-run Halkbank, now accused of seeking to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran, to deal with persistent Turkish pressure, CNN said on Saturday.
"The fears over potential political interference are particularly acute in New York, where prosecutors with the US attorney's office in Manhattan handle high-profile cases with a broad range of geopolitical implications, including terrorism prosecutions as well as investigations involving foreign governments and financial institutions, all of which can intersect with White House interests," CNN said.
Halkbank is accused of involvement in a massive scheme to circumvent sanctions on Iran. The indictment states that Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab bribed high-ranking officials, including a Turkish minister, to help divert Iranian oil revenues through Halkbank with the help of fictitious trades.
"According to a person familiar with the discussions, Barr personally spearheaded an effort last year to negotiate a settlement with the bank that would have allowed it to sidestep an indictment after Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pressed Trump in a bid to avoid charges," CNN said.
A Senate Democrat, Ron Wyden, has been investigating Trump’s interference in a Department of Justice probe and prosecution of Halkbank. He said his "suspicions were confirmed".
NEW: I've been investigating Trump's interference in the investigation into Turkish-owned Halkbank, and my suspicions were just confirmed. Attorney General Barr — at Trump’s request — was trying to orchestrate a sweetheart deal to please President Erdogan. https://t.co/g1DICgh2Fz— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) February 15, 2020
Wyden on Feb. 3 requested Barr's recusal from Turkish state-run bank's case, saying that Trump was granting personal favours to "the autocratic leader of Turkey” through the efforts of the U.S. attorney general.