Appeals Court Rejects Halkbank Request to Halt U.S. Prosecution

(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. appeals court rejected a request from Turkish lender Halkbank to postpone its prosecution on alleged sanctions violations charges.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office charged Halkbank in October, but the bank has so far refused to enter a plea and sought to have the case dismissed. The bank had asked the appellate court to pause the district court proceeding while its request to dismiss the case was considered. The request was rejected Friday in a one-paragraph ruling by the appeals court.

Barring further appeal, the lower-court prosecution will now move forward. Prosecutors have branded the bank a fugitive from justice, asking the judge to hold it in contempt and impose fines until it begins answering to the charges.

Halkbank, which is majority-owned by the Turkish government, is accused of helping Iran access billions of dollars in oil funds that had been frozen in its accounts under U.S. sanctions. A senior bank executive was previously convicted, and a money launderer pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme.

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