U.S. appeals court rejects Halkbank’s request to halt prosecution

A U.S. federal court on Friday has rejected Turkey’s state-run Halkbank’s appeal for special representation, Bloomberg reported

The bank had requested to pause proceedings while a request to dismiss the case was considered.

Halkbank "has not demonstrated that it lacks and adequate, alternative means of obtaining relief," the court said in its statement announcing the rejection of the petition for a stay of the criminal proceeding, as shared by Courthouse News reporter Adam Klasfeld.

The lower-court prosecution will move further, if Halkbank does not pursue further appeals, Bloomberg said.

Prosecutors have described Halkbank as “fugitive” for refusing to appear, and the bank faced fines for refusing to acknowledge the charges.  

The court ruling from December last year “denying a special proceeding that would postpone arraignment, still stands,” Klasfeld said in a tweet.

On Oct. 16, the District Court for the Southern District of New York indicted Halkbank with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offences related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Halkbank has refused to appear in court, saying U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over it as the bank does not have any branches or physical operations in the United States. The bank has also called for Judge Richard Berman to be recused, saying the judge had lost his neutrality. 

Halkbank is accused of involvement in a complex scheme to circumvent sanctions on Iran between 2011 and 2016. The indictment states that Turkish-Iranian millionaire businessman Reza Zarrab bribed high-ranking Turkish officials, including a minister, to facilitate the oil-for-gold scheme in which Halkbank laundered the revenues in the U.S. banking system. Zarrab was arrested in Miami as he arrived with his family, and later on flipped and pled guilty for sanction-busting schemes which involve Halkbank. 

Turkey’s Halkbank is reportedly struggling to find funding following its indictment by U.S. federal prosecutors, a S&P Global report said last month. 

According to a CNN report earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered Attorney General William Barr to drop charges against state-run Halkbank to deal with persistent Turkish pressure.