A federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday rejected a request by Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank to put on hold a federal prosecution accusing it of helping Iran evade U.S. economic sanctions, Reuters informed.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said Halkbank would not face irreparable harm if the case proceeded, and that limiting its economic and reputational damage “may best be assured by Halkbank’s speedy response to the criminal charges.”
Berman also said the public had a strong interest in a “prompt adjudication” of Halkbank’s alleged role in a conspiracy to undermine the sanctions, including through the alleged transfer of $20 billion of otherwise restricted Iranian funds.
Halkbank has resisted entering a plea to the federal fraud and money laundering charges announced on October 15, Reuters adds.
The bank had asked Berman to stay the case until the federal appeals court in Manhattan decided whether it could make a “special appearance” to challenge the jurisdiction of U.S. courts without first entering a plea. Berman ruled on December 5 that a plea should come first.
The charges threatened to complicate U.S.-Turkish relations, and were announced one day after President Donald Trump sanctioned Turkey following its launch of a military offense against Kurdish-led militia in northeastern Syria.