Turkey’s Halkbank slams ‘unfair’ reports linking lender to Zarrab case in US

Turkey’s Halkbank slams ‘unfair’ reports linking lender to Zarrab case in US

Turkey’s Halkbank slams ‘unfair’ reports linking lender to Zarrab case in US Turkey’s Halkbank has said it found several reports and comments which linked the lender with an ongoing investigation conducted in the U.S. against an Iranian-born Turkish businessman unfair, inappropriate and law-breaking in a written statement. 

“In the past few days, in some media organs, within the scope of an investigation conducted in the United States of America, there have been extremely unfair, inappropriate and law-breaking news and comments against our bank, which has been operating since the foundation of the [Turkish] republic,” said the lender late March 28, noting the U.S. indictments did not make any mention of the bank. 

Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-born Turkish businessman who was acquitted in a vast Turkish graft probe in 2014 after 70 days in jail, was arrested in Florida on March 21 on charges of conspiracy to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in financial transactions for the Iranian government or other entities to evade U.S. sanctions.

U.S. prosecutor Preet Bharara, who has a reputation for prosecuting 100 Wall Street executives in 2014 before a historic settlement, also charged Zarrab’s employee, Kamelia Jamshidy, and Hossein Najafzadeh, a senior officer at a unit of Bank Mellat in Iran. 

Halkbank said its Iran-related foreign trade activities with Iran have been carried out since 2004. 

“Neither earlier nor within the 12-year period under Halkbank’s name has there ever been an international investigation, enquiry or a lawsuit against our bank with regards to commercial relations with Iran and even no negative feedback has been received from any regulatory body,” it noted. 

“During these 12 years, there have been changes in the international regulations from time to time and our bank, evaluating such changes in an uninterrupted communication with foreign authorities and regulators, has redefined all business procedures in conformity. No dissidence or nonconformity with the related authorities has occurred within this period. No transactions involving prohibited parties, persons or goods/services have been processed. As per regulations, the U.S. financial system and U.S. currency have not been used for Iran-related trade transactions. Within this context, there is no justification for associating the transactions executed by persons or institutions whose names are mentioned in the indictment related to the investigation carried out in the U.S., with our bank. It is also worth to mention that our bank’s name has not been mentioned in the said indictment,” said the statement. 

Halkbank noted the lender would bring to the public attention and inform its investors that legal proceedings were going to be commenced immediately against persons and organizations asserting false reports about the bank.