ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury has requested information on a Turkish bank, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Wednesday, referring to a U.S. court case against a Halkbank (HALKB.IS) executive charged with helping Iran to evade sanctions.
“The case in the United States is vague. As of today, the U.S. Treasury has not initiated a request of information for Turkish banks, except one,” Simsek said at an event in Istanbul. He did not elaborate about the bank in question nor the information requested.
A wealthy Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, has pleaded guilty to charges that he schemed to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions and is testifying in a U.S. court against the Halkbank executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, for related charges.
Atilla has pleaded innocent and Halkbank has said all of its transactions have complied with international and domestic regulations. Ankara has said the case is politically motivated and an attempt to undermine Turkey’s economy and government.
Simsek also said that the banking sector’s capital was strong and capable of enduring a shock. He said the government would give support to its banks if needed.
International investors have expressed concern that banks could be drawn into the U.S. case. The investors are already wary about Turkey over the fall-out from President Tayyip Erdogan’s widening crackdown.
While international sanctions on Iran were eased last year, U.S. measures remain and penalties for any infringements can be devastating, as a $9 billion fine on French bank BNP Paribas last year attests.
Reporting by Ebru Tuncay; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans and Matthew Mpoke Bigg