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Dec 07 2018

Positive developments on Halkbank case in U.S. - Erdogan

The New York prosecutor’s office has withdrawn a request to lengthen the sentence of a former top executive at Turkey’s state-run Halkbank found guilty of breaking U.S. sanctions on Iran, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Friday. 

The prosecutor’s office was asked by a court in the city to present details of the request by Dec. 6, but it was later withdrawn, Anadolu said, without citing anyone.

The New York prosecutor’s office was not available to comment, Reuters reported.

In January, a Manhattan jury found Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy CEO of Halkbank, guilty of involvement in the sanctions-busting scheme, which allegedly involved bank transfers and falsified paperwork. The banker was sentenced to 32 months in prison in May.

Halkbank, which is also under investigation by the U.S. Treasury for complicity in the scheme, denies any wrong doing.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said there were positive developments on Halkbank case, adding that Ankara hoped for a positive outcome on the case, according to Reuters. 

The U.S. investigation into Halkbank has been a key stumbling block to the two NATO allies normalising relations in the aftermath of a diplomatic row earlier this year over the jailing of a U.S. pastor. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said last month that there was a possibility that the jailed banker could be handed over to Turkey to serve the rest of his sentence. He spoke after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last month that he had discussed the U.S. Treasury probe of Halkbank with President Donald Trump, who had expressed impatience about progress towards a conclusion of the issue.