Halkbank seeks to dismiss US claims that it helped Iran evade sanctions

State-owned Turkish lender has refused to respond to charges in court since case was filed last month

FILE PHOTO: People walk past by a branch of Halkbank in central Istanbul, Turkey, October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir/File Photo
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A lawyer for a Turkish bank filed court papers on Monday saying it would seek to dismiss a US indictment against it for helping Iran evade sanctions on billions of dollars that were frozen in foreign accounts.

Halkbank, a major state-owned Turkish lender, has refused to respond to the charges in court since the case was filed last month.

The indictment, which was filed by prosecutors at Manhattan’s Federal Court, accused the bank of running a “brazen scheme” between 2012 and 2016 to evade US sanctions on Iran.

Prosecutors charged the bank for helping to increase Iran’s revenues from oil and gas sales using front companies, and through knowledge and under protection of officials in Iran and Turkey.

The officials received millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, the indictment said.

On Monday, the lawyer representing the Turkish lender said the bank would request the removal of US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan, who presided over a previous trial on the matter and has been assigned the new case.

But the bank said it did not plan to fight the US indictment in the American court.

Its lawyers are seeking permission only for the limited purpose of filing a dismissal motion on technical grounds.