Halkbank insists on mediating for Iran

Halkbank insists on mediating for Iran

ANKARA – Reuters
Turkish lender Halkbank will continue to handle customers’ oil payments to Iran as long as they comply with international regulations, the bank’s general manager said in the wake of fresh, unilateral U.S. and EU sanctions.

Halkbank’s dealings with Iran drew attention last year when Indian refiners disclosed they were channeling oil payments through the Turkish bank as their own central bank had shut its payment facility, fearing U.S. retribution.

Majority state-owned Halkbank is Turkey’s sixth largest bank, based on unconsolidated assets, and has a representative office in Tehran. It also processes payments to Iran by Tüpraş, Turkey’s sole refiner and a unit of Koç Holding, according to energy sector officials.

General Manager Süleyman Aslan denied there had been U.S. pressure to stop handling transactions, as the bank was not acting illegally. He said a decision to reject an application from another Indian refiner late last year was unrelated to its trade deals with Iran.

‘Not a political stand’

 In an interview with Reuters Aslan said “communication channels” with all sides, including the United States, were open and that apart from India, the bank was not handling payments to Iran from any other third country.

He said decisions on whether to take business were based on banking rather than political criteria.
“We do not make any specific decision based on Iran or any other country. We have customers, and these customers approach us and we look at their transactions. This transaction may be in India, it may be in Iran it may be in another country,” he said.

“If it is legitimate business, we will carry out the job within the framework of international regulations and international standard practice.”