Owner file

Halkbank to file petition with U.S. Supreme Court as case stays

Shares of Turkish state-owned Halkbank rose more than 8% on Monday after a U.S. appeals court stayed its federal government prosecution for allegedly helping Iran evade the US sanctions while the lender appeals to the US Supreme Court.

Halkbank shares were up 8.5% at 5.59 TL at 07:27 GMT.

“The bank plans to file a petition with the United States Supreme Court,” Halkbank said in a statement to the Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange (BIST) on Monday.

“Proceedings in the district court will be suspended until the process in the Supreme Court is completed,” he said.

Halkbank has been at the center of a major dispute between Ankara and Washington. US prosecutors have accused the bank of helping Iran evade US sanctions in a case that has strained US-Turkish relations. The Turkish bank denied any wrongdoing.

Friday’s order from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan allows Halkbank to appeal without having to defend against the criminal case at the same time.

The US Department of Justice had opposed a postponement, saying Halkbank’s “baseless” claims did not raise “substantial” issues or outweigh the public interest in a speedy trial.

Halkbank has pleaded not guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy for its alleged use of fund managers and front companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to evade sanctions.

His alleged misconduct includes helping Iran secretly transfer $20 billion in restricted funds, including $1 billion laundered through the US financial system, and converting oil revenues into gold and then cash for Iranian interests. .

Halkbank had appealed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman allowing him to be prosecuted.

Berman oversaw several related cases, including the conviction of former Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla and a guilty plea for Iranian Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab.

Atilla was sentenced in January 2018 and returned to Turkey in July 2019 after his release from prison.

In an Oct. 22 ruling, the 2nd Circuit said Halkbank could be sued because its alleged misconduct involved business activity that was not covered by sovereign immunity.

Halkbank said the ruling contradicted Supreme Court precedents because it “gave the green light to the first criminal trial of a foreign ruler in the country’s history.”

He also said he would suffer irreparable harm if forced to defend himself against “a matter from which he is immune”.

The Supreme Court rejects most of the appeals. During his last term, he received 5,307 depositions and heard arguments in 72 cases.

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