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Halkbank lawsuits suspended pending appeal from U.S. Supreme Court

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NEW YORK – A US appeals court has stayed federal lawsuits against Turkish state lender Halkbank for allegedly helping Iran evade US sanctions while the bank appeals to the State Supreme Court -United.

Friday’s order from the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan allows Halkbank to appeal without having to defend against the criminal case at the same time. It did not rule on the merits of an appeal.

The US Department of Justice had objected to a delay, saying Halkbank’s “baseless” claims had neither raised “substantive” questions or overcome the public interest in a speedy trial.

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Halkbank has pleaded not guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy for his alleged use of money services and shell companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to evade sanctions.

Its alleged misconduct is to help Iran secretly transfer $ 20 billion in restricted funds, including $ 1 billion laundered by the U.S. financial system, and convert oil revenues into gold and then cash for the benefit of Iranian interests.

The US attorney’s office in Manhattan and US attorneys at Halkbank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a decision of October 22, https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/us-appeals-court-says-turkeys-halkbank-can-be-prosecuted-over-iran-sanction-2021-10-22, the 2nd Circuit said Halkbank could be sued because his alleged misconduct involved business activity that was not covered by sovereign immunity.

Halkbank said the ruling was in conflict with Supreme Court precedents because it “gives the green light to the first criminal trial of a foreign ruler in the country’s history.”

He also said he would suffer irreparable harm if he were forced to defend himself against “a case from which he is immune”.

The Supreme Court dismisses most of the appeals. During his last term https://www.supremecourt.gov/publicinfo/year-end/2021year-endreport.pdf, he received 5,307 files and heard arguments in 72 cases. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)