U.S. prosecutors accuse Turkey's Halkbank of scheme to evade Iran sanctions

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By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors in New York on Tuesday charged Turkey’s Halkbank (IS:) with taking part in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The charges against the majority state-owned bank mirror those against one of its former executives, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was found guilty and sentenced to prison after a trial in Manhattan federal court last year.

A U.S. lawyer for Halkbank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said that between 2012 and 2016, Halkbank helped run a scheme that allowed Iran to spend proceeds from sales of its oil and gas on international markets, in violation of U.S. sanctions, using a complex web of front companies.

The scheme ran with the protection of high-ranking officials in Iran and Turkey, some of whom received tens of millions of dollars in bribes, the prosecutors said.

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