Erdoğan says Trump impatient about Halkbank probe

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said U.S. President Donald Trump expressed impatience about progress towards a conclusion of a Treasury probe into state-run Halkbank, Yeni Şafak newspaper reported.

Erdoğan said he reminded Trump about the investigation, which is focused on Halkbank’s alleged role in breaking U.S. sanctions on Iran, during a phone call. He said Trump responded, saying he thought the issue had been resolved and wondered why things were taking so long.

After a previous phone call, Trump had given instructions to his Treasury minister, who then spoke with Berat Albayrak, his opposite number in Turkey, Erdoğan said. But then “after another development” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he said.

Erdoğan said there was a danger that the issue would be handed over to New York from Washington, in an apparent referral to reports last week that New York prosecutors could present a new indictment in legal proceedings. A court case in New York has already resulted in the jailing of Halkbank’s former CEO Mehmet Hakan Atilla for conspiring to defraud the U.S. banking system.

The U.S. investigation of Halkbank remains a key stumbling block in further improving ties between the two NATO allies.