|Bid||0.0000 x 0|
|Ask||0.0000 x 0|
|Day's Range||1.8100 - 1.8100|
|52 Week Range||1.6000 - 3.1100|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.39|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||N/A|
Ratings agency Fitch put the long-term foreign currency rating of Turkey's Halkbank on "rating watch negative" on Monday, following U.S. Department of Justice charges of fraud, money laundering and Iran sanctions busting. The downgrade warning on the rating... "reflects uncertainty surrounding the sufficiency and timeliness of support from the Turkish authorities in case a material fine or other punitive measures are imposed on Halk," Fitch said in a statement.
(Bloomberg) -- Turkish banking stocks fell Monday after market regulators wound back some of the measures imposed last week to shield the sector from fallout as U.S. prosecutors brought an indictment against Halkbank in New York.The Borsa Istanbul Banks Index, which tracks 13 listed lenders, slid as much as 2.4%, before trading 1.9% lower as of 4:15 p.m. in Istanbul. Akbank TAS and Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS led the slump as all but two members of the sector benchmark declined. Halkbank sank 3%.Turkey’s Capital Markets Board removed a depositary restriction that limited sales of shares in the seven largest banks to stocks in the possession of investors, and a requirement that sales could only be executed by the brokerage holding the stock. While the regulator retained a ban on short selling, the relaxations prompted selling by investors prevented from making disposals earlier.“Because of last week’s rules, some clients’ orders to sell bank shares weren’t executed,” said Burak Demircioglu, head of international capital markets at Yatirim Finansman in Istanbul. “With the relaxation of the rules, some of those sell orders are being processed.”The Borsa Istanbul and the Capital Markets Board introduced the measures after the U.S. on Oct. 15 targeted Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, to give the lender its full name, over alleged breaches of Iran sanctions, six days after Turkey began a military incursion into Syria. While the measures supported bank stocks, with the index advancing 7.3% by Friday’s close, they also had the effect of slashing trading volume by more than 70% of the 20-day average.Read the latest here on Turkey’s Syria incursion(Updates prices throughout. A previous version of this story was corrected to remove a reference to the largest banks by market capitalization.)To contact the reporter on this story: Tugce Ozsoy in Istanbul at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Blaise Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Onur Ant at email@example.com, John Viljoen, Paul JarvisFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Ankara has appointed a banker formerly jailed in the US — for helping Iran dodge sanctions over its nuclear programme — as the head of Turkey’s stock exchange. The stock exchange has a market capitalisation of about $163bn. “After his unjust conviction, Hakan Atilla was reunited with his family and nation, and his period of rest has now ended.
Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) today announced that it has placed on review for downgrade the caa2 Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) and the B3 long-term bank deposit and senior debt rating of Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. (Halkbank). A full list of affected ratings can be found at the end of this press release.
Dollar-denominated bonds issued by Turkey's government and state-lender Halkbank rallied sharply on Friday after Ankara agreed with the United States to pause its Syria assault. Dollar-denominated bonds issued by the country's second-largest bank Halkbank also gained with the 2021 issue adding as much as 2.7 cents to 89.95 cents in the dollar. The gains in Halkbank only partially recovered the hefty loss on Thursday when some issues tumbled more than 5 cents after U.S. prosecutors charged the state-owned lender with taking part in a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump assigned his attorney general and Treasury secretary to deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repeated pleas to avoid charges against one of Turkey’s largest banks, according to two people familiar with the matter.In an April phone call, Trump told Erdogan that William Barr and Steven Mnuchin would handle the issue, the people said. In the months that followed, no action was taken against Halkbank for its alleged involvement in a massive scheme to evade sanctions on Iran. That changed when an undated indictment was unveiled Tuesday -- a day after Trump imposed sanctions over Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria.It marked an unusual intervention by a president to get his top cabinet officials involved in an active federal investigation. It’s not clear whether Trump instructed Barr and Mnuchin to satisfy Erdogan’s pleas or whether the president was simply tired of being asked about it.But according to a third person who’s familiar with Turkey’s position, discussions over a deal that would resolve the issue out of court made little headway before Barr took over as attorney general in February and then became involved in the discussions.Over the summer, the White House sought to stop Erdogan and his aides from pestering Trump on the matter, according to a person who was briefed on a number of phone calls that took place and asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. In June, the person said, then-National Security Advisor John Bolton told a Turkish official, Ibrahim Kalin, that Trump wouldn’t engage on the issue directly after delegating it and that Turkish officials should stop raising it with the president.In a call at about the same time, Barr told his Turkish counterpart, Abdulhamit Gul, that he needed to reach a deal with the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, where the case was under consideration, or it would go to trial. He said Turkey’s best option would be to accept a deferred prosecution agreement under which Halkbank would pay a fine and take steps to avoid further wrongdoing.After months of negotiations, Turkish officials ultimately refused because they believed doing so would constitute an admission of guilt, according to the person. A second person familiar with the discussions confirmed that Turkey refused to accept the deal but said there had been progress toward a resolution.President’s PriorityTrump’s involvement and his decision to assign Barr and Mnuchin to address the sensitive issue, working with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, reflected the degree to which the Halkbank case became a priority for the president.In the end, U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against Halkbank, accusing it of fraud, money laundering and violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. It’s unclear exactly when the Halkbank indictment was filed, raising questions about whether it was set aside until it became politically expedient for the Trump administration to unseal it.The White House didn’t have advance notice there was an indictment against the bank or when it was going to be unsealed, according to an administration official.Justice Department officials declined to comment when asked about Barr’s efforts, and the Treasury Department declined to comment on Mnuchin’s role. The White House declined to comment, and the State Department declined to discuss the part Pompeo played. Bolton declined to comment.The politically explosive indictment came as Turkish-U.S. tensions are soaring over Turkey’s military offensive in Syria after Trump’s withdrawal of American forces from key border posts last week. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence and Pompeo were due to travel to Ankara for talks with Erdogan over the conflict in Syria.The charges against Halkbank also come after years of public and private lobbying by Erdogan and other top Turkish officials -- starting in the Obama administration -- to get the investigations into violations of Iran sanctions dropped.The matter is the latest instance linked to Turkey in which Trump has pressed for a solution beyond the bounds of the courtroom. In multiple meetings in 2017, Trump urged then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to persuade the Justice Department to drop the case against Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader at the center of the scheme to violate the sanctions.Rudy Giuliani, who later became Trump’s personal attorney, represented Zarrab and pressed Trump to intervene on his client’s behalf.Zarrab, a Turkish gold trader, ultimately pleaded guilty and became the star witness against a bank executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla. Zarrab recounted how he’d helped Iran tap funds from overseas oil sales that were frozen in foreign accounts. Atilla was convicted in early 2018.Together, the episodes demonstrate Trump’s receptiveness to Erdogan’s desire to avoid criminal proceedings that could shed an unflattering light on his government.Mnuchin and the Treasury Department were also involved because they had a role in determining the size of a regulatory penalty against Halkbank after Atilla was convicted in January of last year of helping violate the Iran sanctions.Critics said they grew alarmed that the fine hadn’t been issued more than a year after the executive’s conviction in January 2018. Some suspected that Erdogan’s persistent lobbying about the Halkbank case -- he brought it up during the Obama administration, including twice in meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, only to be rebuffed -- successfully persuaded Trump administration officials to hold back.Evidence ‘Overwhelming’“The evidence against Halkbank and, by extension, the Turkish government was overwhelming in this case,” said Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “But the Turks went full-force lobbying the Trump administration on this to avoid accountability. Frankly, some in the Trump administration were all too receptive to arguments that the mess was the result of Obama rather than a deliberate scheme on the part of the Turks.”Halkbank did hire powerful lobbyists to advocate on its behalf before the Trump administration, according to Justice Department filings. One such lobbying firm was Ballard Partners, which was paid almost $780,000 from November 2018 through March of this year to work on Halkbank’s behalf. It renewed its contract for $40,000 a month in late July.“What we had been doing was making the case to relevant administration officials about the importance of this bank to the financial system of Turkey and Turkey’s economy and that, in taking into account that Turkey is a NATO ally and the potential implications, the steps against the bank would have profound repercussions,” Ballard partner Jamie Rubin, a State Department spokesman in the Clinton administration, said in an interview.Rubin said Ballard ended its contract with Halkbank as of Wednesday.“Since the matter is now in the judicial system this is a natural endpoint for our representation,” Rubin said in an interview.Turkey Decision-MakingCritics of Trump’s decision-making on Turkey also point to his refusal so far to sanction the country over its decision to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, as U.S. law requires. When Turkey started receiving parts for the system this summer, the State Department forwarded a list of recommended sanctions to the White House, only to have Trump ignore them, Bloomberg News reported at the time.While Trump has been silent on the Halkbank case, public evidence suggests that he’s talked to others beyond his top staff about it. In an August phone call with a pair of Russian pranksters who presented themselves as Turkey’s defense minister, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump was “very sensitive” to the “case involving the Turkish bank,” according to Politico.“The president wants to be helpful, within the limits of his power,” said Graham, a close Trump ally.(Updates with administration official comment in 10th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Chris Strohm.To contact the reporters on this story: Nick Wadhams in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at email@example.com;Saleha Mohsin in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at email@example.com, ;Kevin Whitelaw at firstname.lastname@example.org, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Turkish regulators moved to limit the impact on financial markets after the U.S. targeted a leading bank in what amounted to a reprimand of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s military incursion in Syria.The government measures, including a ban on short-selling of seven banks and a renewed liquidity squeeze in offshore money markets, stemmed a rout in financial institutions and buoyed the lira. Early declines followed U.S. criminal charges against state-run Halkbank, one of the nation’s largest.The legal action raised concern in Turkey that the U.S. may impose tougher penalties, just as the $722 billion economy -- heavily reliant on foreign capital -- is starting to recover from a recession. Wednesday’s sell-off would have been much worse without intervention, investors said, compounding a bad month for Turkish assets.“Brokers are reluctant to accept sell orders in bank stocks from foreign institutional investors, and this seems to be restraining the drop,” said Can Oksun, senior manager of institutional sales at Global Securities in Istanbul.After falling more than 2% at the open, the benchmark index of Turkish stocks pared declines to trade down 1.4%, holding just above the lowest level since June. The lira also limited losses as state banks were selling dollars to support the currency, according to three traders with knowledge of the matter.An indictment filed Tuesday in a Manhattan federal court accused Halkbank, whose full name is Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, of participating in a wide-ranging plot to violate prohibitions on Iran’s access to the U.S. financial system.“The timing of these charges would appear to be less than coincidental and is clearly highly politicized,” said Julian Rimmer, a trader at Investec Bank in London. “This is another warning shot across Turkey’s bow.”Halkbank itself said in a filing that the indictment was among sanctions against Turkey’s military operation in Syria. The bank will exercise all legitimate rights against the “unwarranted case” under international law, it said.Mounting SanctionsOn Monday, President Donald Trump sanctioned three senior Turkish officials and increased steel tariffs, a milder punishment than expected. U.S. lawmakers in both parties are pushing for stricter measures.Turkey’s market support may have unintended consequences, however. If investors are unable to sell bank shares, they may begin offloading other assets. And those unable to fund their positions in the lira market may come under similar pressure.Regulators last orchestrated a liquidity squeeze in the offshore market in March, limiting a key source of lira liquidity for foreign investors in Turkish assets. The move drove overnight swap rates above 1,000%, burning short sellers and forcing investors to dump assets as they scrambled for funding.“There will be a price,” said Timothy Ash, a strategist at BlueBay Asset Management in London.The Trump administration has called for an immediate cease-fire in Syria after the cross-border incursion earlier this month. Erdogan rejected that demand.U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will meet Erdogan on Thursday in Ankara to reiterate Trump’s commitment to sanctions, according to a White House statement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and Ambassador James Jeffrey will also be on the trip that begins Wednesday.The lira has weakened more than 4% this month as tensions built with the U.S. The yield on Halkbank’s dollar bond due 2021 surged more than 380 basis points.Turkey Advises Banks Against Offering Lira Liquidity OffshoreThe benchmark Borsa Istanbul 100 Index was trading 1.4% lower as of 2:45 p.m in Istanbul, led by Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS and Turk Hava Yollari AO. The lira edged 0.2% higher to 5.90 per dollar while the yield on two-year government bonds jumped 48 basis points.“The Americans intend to use these charges as leverage,” Rimmer said. “And given they can impose almost unlimited fines and heavy penalties, the Turks will have to take this seriously.”(Updates market information, adds comments.)To contact the reporters on this story: Tugce Ozsoy in Istanbul at email@example.com;Asli Kandemir in Istanbul at firstname.lastname@example.org;Constantine Courcoulas in Istanbul at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Blaise Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org, Paul SillitoeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Turkey’s market regulators suspended short-selling in seven banks including Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS and ordered brokers not to execute orders unless a client has the respective shares in his account. Traders say the moves make it hard to sell shares in the country’s largest banks.Borsa Istanbul, Turkey’s stock exchange, “temporarily prohibited” short-selling in Halkbank, which is facing a U.S. criminal case, and six other banks, according to a statement published on the bourse’s website early Wednesday. Separately, Capital Markets Board said the depository rule will be applied to those banks’ stocks and that the sale of their shares will be only executed from the brokers holding their clients’ shares. The brokerages will be held responsible on the execution of the rules, the market regulator said in a statement.“In addition to the prohibition on short sales in Turkish banks, shareholders can only sell if the executing broker can see the shares in his custody account,” said Julian Rimmer, a trader at Investec Bank in London. “The net effect of this is to make Turkish banks a T+0 settlement and this makes it extremely difficult for an international account to sell shares.”An index tracking Turkey’s listed banks trimmed drop of as much as 4.1% at the open to 1.8% as of 2:10pm in Istanbul. Shares of Halkbank traded 5.6% lower, after slumping as much as 7.4% earlier. The volume on the Borsa Istanbul Banks Index was half the average of the past 20 days for this time of the day.The decision came into effect on Wednesday, according to the statement, while no information was given on when the ban would end. The move comes as Turkish authorities attempt to limit losses in Turkey’s biggest banks after the U.S. brought a criminal case against the state-owned Halkbank for allegedly aiding a scheme to evade sanctions against Iran.Turkish Markets Cave Under U.S. Pressure as Banks Hit Over SyriaThe effort may “throw up a whole host of unintended consequences,” according to Rimmer. “The rule potentially makes the selling of bank shares extremely difficult, while it may pressure other large cap stocks.”An indictment was filed Tuesday in Manhattan against Halkbank, in which prosecutors accused the state-run lender of participating in a wide-ranging plot to violate prohibitions on Iran’s access to the U.S. financial system. The conspiracy involved high-ranking government officials in Iran and Turkey, the U.S. said.Turkey’s Halkbank Faces U.S. Charges as Tensions Mount (2)Turkey is in the global spotlight after it started a military operation in Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday announced a series of sanctions against the country, including raising tariffs on Turkish steel exports and sanctioning three ministers.The indictment in the U.S. appears to largely repeat allegations used during the trial of former Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla and as part of the sanctions introduced against Turkey’s military operation in Syria, Halkbank said in a public filing on Wednesday. “The bank was not engaged in any secondary U.S. sanctions violations,” it said.Halkbank shares have slumped 27% this year in Istanbul, heading for its second year of declines. That compares with an 8.5% gain for the 13-member banking index.Banks affected:Akbank TASTurkiye Garanti Bankasi ASTurkiye Is Bankasi ASTurkiye Sinai Kalkinma Bankasi ASTurkiye Halk Bankasi ASTurkiye Vakiflar Bankasi TAOYapi ve Kredi Bankasi ASDespite rallying in September, Turkish banking stocks still accounted for four out of 10 most popular short trades -- bets that benefit from a decline in the stock -- among emerging market banks, according to Markit Ltd. data.Short sellers targeted state lenders Vakifbank and Halkbank the most among Turkish bank stocks. That said, short interest on Halkbank’s shares fell to 1.1% on Oct. 10, an 18 month-low, before picking up slightly this week.\--With assistance from Taylan Bilgic and Ercan Ersoy.To contact the reporters on this story: Ugur Yilmaz in Istanbul at email@example.com;Tugce Ozsoy in Istanbul at firstname.lastname@example.org;Asli Kandemir in Istanbul at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at firstname.lastname@example.org, Namitha JagadeeshFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Turkish one-week lira FX swaps jumped to 20.25% on Wednesday, as a flurry of measures by the country's authorities to limit market volatility revived memories of a freeze orchestrated on lira trading back in March. The leap in the swaps rates tested a 2-1/2 month high hit earlier in the week and came after media reports that Turkish authorities had advised some local banks against offering lira liquidity in the offshore London money-market. The move had echoes of the squeeze put on offshore markets back in March, when a bid to stamp out sharp volatility in the lira, sent the cost of borrowing in the Turkish currency in swaps markets soaring past 1,000 percent.
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. brought a criminal case against one of Turkey’s largest banks for aiding a scheme to evade sanctions against Iran, a move that carries political overtones as tensions build over Turkey’s military offensive in Syria.In an indictment filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors accused government-owned Halkbank of participating in a wide-ranging plot to violate prohibitions on Iran’s access to the U.S. financial system. The conspiracy involved high-ranking government officials in Iran and Turkey, the U.S. said.“Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in New York said in a statement. “Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court.”Shares of Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, as the lender is officially known, fell as much as 7.4 percent in early trading in Istanbul. Turkey’s stock exchange “temporarily prohibited” short-selling in seven banks, including Halkbank.The Turkish lira fell almost 1% after the charges were announced. It’s down 4.5% so far this month, more than any of the 24 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.A Halkbank representative didn’t immediately respond to a text seeking comment.The charges in the years-long case were described by a U.S. official as a frontal assault on Turkish President Recep Erdogan. Because of the timing, there’s a risk the prosecution will be perceived as a political attack by the U.S. on Turkey for its aggression, the official added.Click here to read the press release and indictmentTwo people, including a senior Halkbank executive, were previously convicted in the case, which led to the airing in a Manhattan courtroom of many of Halkbank’s activities. The late-2017 trial sparked vehement protests from Erdogan, who accused U.S. officials of trying to harm his country’s national and economic interests. He labeled the prosecution nothing short of an “international coup attempt.”The case became a lasting irritant for the Turkish president, who pressed both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump to intervene and dismiss it. Early in Trump’s term, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was hired by the central figure in the case, and he mounted an audacious shadow diplomacy effort to win his client’s freedom. On Giuliani’s behalf, Trump himself asked a member of his cabinet to steer prosecutors away from the case.Several months after the trial of the senior Halkbank executive ended, U.S. officials began negotiating a potential penalty with the bank. But no settlement was announced, and the broader case seemed to go dormant.Read More: U.S. Inquiry Into Turkey’s Halkbank Inflamed Erdogan, Then Went QuietThen Trump announced last week that the U.S. was withdrawing its forces from the border with Syria, and Turkey mounted a military campaign to take over the region. Trump’s decision was roundly criticized by Congress and other foreign leaders, and images from the battlefield inflamed public opinion. Trump then demanded Turkey withdraw its forces, and in a cryptic tweet threatened to “destroy” Turkey’s economy.Secretly LaunderThe case began with U.S. charges against Reza Zarrab, a flamboyant Turkish gold trader who said he’d helped Iran tap funds from overseas oil sales that were frozen in foreign accounts. Zarrab ultimately pleaded guilty and became the star witness against the bank executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was himself convicted at the trial in early 2018.Though the bank wasn’t initially charged, U.S. prosecutors claimed it became the nucleus of a plot to secretly launder funds out of Turkey to Dubai. There, money could be moved into the global financial system and made available to help pay Iran’s bills. Prosecutors showed how Iranian funds were converted to gold, exported to Dubai, sold for cash and then distributed for Iran’s benefit. About $1 billion was converted into U.S. dollars and moved through banks in New York, the U.S. said at the trial.The trial gripped Turkey. Some testimony sent its markets into gyrations, in part because prosecutors aired evidence that tied the scheme to Turkish officials and their families. An ex-finance minister was charged in absentia.Zarrab, who’s married to a Turkish pop star, had a tabloid lifestyle of yachts, fast cars and an office in a Trump Tower in Istanbul. After he was detained during a 2016 trip to the U.S., he added Giuliani, who was Trump’s confidante but not yet the president’s lawyer, to his legal team.Giuliani attempted to broker a diplomatic deal with Turkey to extract Zarrab from U.S. custody, trying to swap him for an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was in Turkish custody.Press JusticeThen, at Giuliani’s urging, Trump asked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the second half of 2017 to press the Justice Department to drop its case against Zarrab, Bloomberg News reported last week.Giuliani didn’t immediately have a comment on the charges and asked in a text, “What is Halk Bank?”In an interview last week, he said he talked to the State Department about his role as Zarrab’s lawyer and had behaved ethically and legally. He would have been a hero had he arranged the swap with Brunson, he said.Turkey has come under heightened pressure since its invasion of Syria. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has prepared a bipartisan bill that would require the president to impose sanctions on Halkbank. Those sanctions could include freezing assets or restricting visas.In the Senate, Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris Van Hollen have proposed sanctions any foreign individual or entity that supports the Turkish military or energy production used by that country’s armed forces.Read MoreU.S. Inquiry Into Turkish Bank Inflamed Erdogan, Then Went QuietTurkish Banker Guilty in U.S. of Iran-Sanctions ConspiracyIran’s Sanctions Evasion Went East After Europe Cracked Down(Updates with Halkbank share decline, short-selling ban in fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from George Lei, Nick Wadhams, Anna Edgerton and Ercan Ersoy.To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Farrell in New York at email@example.com;Christian Berthelsen in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Winnie O'Kelley at email@example.com, David Glovin, David S. JoachimFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Turkey's Halkbank said on Wednesday that U.S. charges against it amount to an escalation of Washington's sanctions on Ankara over its military incursion in Syria, while President Tayyip Erdogan called them an "unlawful, ugly" step. U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday charged the state-owned lender with taking part in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. The indictment came a day after the United States imposed sanctions on Turkish officials, hiked tariffs and halted trade talks in an effort to persuade Turkey to stop attacks against the Kurdish YPG militia in northeastern Syria.
against a Turkish state-owned bank as he warned that he would not be cowed by threats over his contentious incursion into Syria. Speaking ahead of the arrival of Mike Pence, the US vice-president, in Ankara for talks aimed at halting the military operation, Mr Erdogan questioned the timing of the announcement by New York prosecutors that Halkbank would face six counts of bank fraud and conspiracy to evade US sanctions.
A U.S. federal court indictment charging Turkey's state-owned Halkbank with taking a part in a multi-billion dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran is yet another additional step that doesn't contribute positively to ties between Washington and Ankara, an official at Turkey's embassy said on Tuesday. "This indictment constitutes an additional step that does not contribute positively to the current situation of U.S. Turkey relations," the official told Reuters.
U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday charged Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank with taking part in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran - an indictment that may complicate tension between NATO allies Washington and Ankara. The charges unsealed in federal court in Manhattan mirror those against one of Halkbank's former executives, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was found guilty and sentenced to prison after a trial in the same court last year. Halkbank could not immediately be reached for comment after business hours in Turkey.
One of Turkey’s largest banks has been hit with charges of fraud and money laundering by US prosecutors in connection with a multibillion-dollar sanction-busting scheme. between Ankara and Washington on the eve of a visit by Mike Pence, the US vice-president, to Turkey, New York prosecutors filed an indictment against Halkbank accusing it of violating US sanctions on Iran. into an elaborate gold-for-oil scheme that was allegedly carried out with the help of several former ministers in the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president. Mr Erdogan has previously described a related inquiry into one of the bank’s senior executives as a grand conspiracy that amounted to an “international coup attempt”.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. prosecutors were bearing down last year on a state-owned Turkish bank implicated in a sanctions case that had long been an irritant for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Erdogan asked both the Obama and Trump administrations to drop the matter. Rudy Giuliani got involved, mounting an audacious shadow diplomacy effort to extract a key Turkish suspect from U.S. custody. President Donald Trump asked a member of his cabinet to steer prosecutors away.Still, federal officials secured the conviction of two people who they said helped channel $20 billion to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. By the summer of 2018, U.S. authorities had started wrangling with Turkish authorities about a costly financial penalty against the bank itself, Turkiye Bank Halkasi AS, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.Since then, the investigation has gone quiet.That silence might have escaped notice, but for Trump’s controversial and recent communications with the Turkish president. After a phone call with Erdogan on Sunday, Trump withdrew U.S. support from Kurdish fighters along Syria’s border with Turkey, opening the way for a Turkish incursion that began Wednesday. The White House threatened more sanctions against Turkey on Friday. The rapid-fire mix of concessions and threats against the country served as a reminder of the allies’ uneasy relationship -- in which the sanctions investigation has been a major pressure point.Word of Trump’s dealings with Turkey interrupted blanket news coverage of a congressional impeachment inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine. Lawmakers are focusing on whether Trump tapped the machinery of the state to advance his personal agenda there, while using personal emissaries to steer U.S. policy. The Turkey matter echoes the Ukraine episode -- once again placing Trump and Giuliani at the center of ad hoc diplomacy and private requests between leaders.It’s unclear where the Halkbank investigation stands. Complex financial investigations can move slowly, requiring coordination between the Justice Department, the U.S. Treasury’s sanctions-enforcement unit or other agencies. Diplomatic considerations can add to the complexity. For criminal inquiries, the Justice Department can choose to close an investigation without charges, sometimes via formal notice, but there’s no indication of what it may have done in this instance.The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and the Justice Department in Washington declined to comment.Halkbank and Turkish officials didn’t respond to requests for comment. The White House didn’t immediately comment.Failed SwapAt the center of the U.S. inquiry was Reza Zarrab, a flamboyant Turkish gold trader who said he’d helped Iran tap funds from overseas oil sales that was frozen in foreign accounts.Zarrab, who’s married to a Turkish pop star, had a tabloid lifestyle of yachts, fast cars and an office in a Trump Tower in Istanbul. After he was detained during a 2016 trip to the U.S., he added Giuliani to his legal team.Giuliani attempted to broker a diplomatic deal with Turkey to extract Zarrab from U.S. custody, attempting to swap him for an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was in Turkish custody.Giuliani’s role apparently went deeper than previously reported: At Giuliani’s urging, in the second half of 2017, Trump asked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to press the Justice Department to drop its case against Zarrab, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.Read More: Trump Urged Tillerson to Help Giuliani Client Facing DOJ ChargesGiuliani, in an interview, said he talked to the State Department in his role as Zarrab’s lawyer and said he behaved ethically and legally. He would have been a hero had he arranged the swap with Brunson, he said.Giuliani’s efforts to spring Zarrab were unsuccessful. He ultimately pleaded guilty. In a twist, he became the prosecution’s star witness in a trial that resulted in the conviction of a Halkbank executive, Mehmet Hakkan Atilla.The proceedings in a Manhattan federal court gripped Turkey. Some testimony sent its markets into gyrations, in part because prosecutors aired evidence that tied the scheme to Turkish officials and their families. An ex-finance minister was charged in absentia.Unsparing PresentationProsecutors were unsparing in presenting evidence of Halkbank’s alleged complicity in the laundering scheme. Standing in front of an easel, Zarrab drew a schematic diagram of how the operation’s crucial initial stages took place within Halkbank.The state-run bank would transfer money from frozen Iranian accounts there into one of Zarrab’s accounts. Zarrab would then convert the cash to gold and ship it to Dubai, where it could be used to make payments on Iran’s behalf.Testimony and evidence also tied the bank’s then-chief executive officer, Suleyman Aslan, to millions of dollars in bribe payments linked to the scheme, some of which was later found stuffed into shoe boxes in his home. Charges against Aslan in Turkey were dropped, and he was charged in absentia in the U.S. He has said he collected the money to build schools.Other evidence included text messages and wiretapped telephone conversations between Zarrab and bank executives as they plotted the operation. In one recorded call, Atilla coached Zarrab on how to falsify customs records to avoid arousing suspicions. Evidence also emerged that top Turkish officials, including Erdogan, had condoned Zarrab’s plan.U.S. relations with Turkey, already in tatters, deteriorated. Turkey’s government dismissed allegations against Erdogan as fabrications, with a government spokesman branding the case a plot against the country.Pursuing BanksAfter Atilla was convicted in early 2018, the acting U.S. attorney at the time, Joon Kim, said banks that had aided Iran risked losing their right to transact in U.S. dollars, a crucial tool in international finance.The apparent peril to the bank was echoed by the probe’s lead investigator. In August 2018, an FBI agent, Jennifer McReynolds, said the Justice Department’s inquiry was designed to “disrupt and dismantle banking and financial institutions who knowingly violated sanctions.”McReynolds was speaking at an event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a national security think tank that has advocated a hard line on Iran and provided an expert witness in the Atilla trial. McReynolds told the audience that Atilla’s conviction “was only the end of the beginning.”Around the same time, U.S. authorities were engaged in talks with Turkish officials to resolve the investigation into the bank itself, according to the people familiar with the matter. The demand was for the bank to pay a fine to atone for the alleged violations or face a case against the bank in a U.S. court, they said. The U.S. came up with a penalty figure using a formula it has applied to similar cases, which accounts for factors including how much money moved and in how many instances, one of them said.The Turkish side maintained innocence and refused to settle, the people said.Also that August, Turkey sent a delegation to Washington that expressed concerns to the State Department and Treasury Department over the proposed Halkbank fine, as part of negotiations over Brunson, who returned to the U.S. in October.In public comments in November 2018, Erdogan said he raised the issue of the proposed Halkbank penalty with Trump. He said Trump expressed surprise that the issue was still dragging on and assured him he would “give an order” to relevant authorities about the case. Trump doesn’t appear to have addressed Erdogan’s statement.“The administration has elected not to prioritize this case,” said Jonathan Schanzer, a senior vice president with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the pro-Israel group. “This does seem incongruous with the administration’s overall policy regarding Iran. If the goal is to demonstrate that those who aid and abet Iran will suffer consequences, Halkbank would be a prime example.”‘Destroy and Obliterate’Trump’s order on Monday to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria’s border with Turkey came shortly after the previous day’s call between Trump and Erdogan. Facing criticism for the move on Monday, the president said he wouldn’t condone Turkish attacks on the U.S.’s Kurdish allies. In a tweet, Trump wrote that if Turkey were to undermine U.S. interests in the region, he had the power to “totally destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey.”Trump didn’t say what he was referring to, and neither did the White House. Some sanctions analysts interpreted the comment as a reference to his imposition of economic penalties against Turkey for its purchase of a Russian missile system last year.What, if anything, the president had in mind remained unclear as Erdogan formally announced that Turkey had launched a military offensive into the Kurdish-controlled areas. Trump said he’d made clear to Turkey that the incursion was a “bad idea.”Meanwhile, the wherabouts of Zarrab, the mastermind-turned-witness, are unclear. Atilla, the Turkish banker who was sentenced last year to three years in U.S. prison, was released in July. He was immediately deported to Turkey, where he was greeted at the airport by his family, as well as by Halkbank’s CEO and Turkey’s finance minister, who is Erdogan’s son-in-law.\--With assistance from Nick Wadhams and Stephanie Baker.To contact the reporter on this story: Christian Berthelsen in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey D Grocott at email@example.com, David S. JoachimFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The risk of full-blown banking crisis in Turkey has eased in recent months as the lira has stabilised, credit rating agency S&P Global said on Monday. In a webcast question and answer session, S&P's lead Turkey analyst Maxim Rybnikov said the domestic currency's recent stabilisation had helped the situation in Turkey's financial system, although strains remained particularly in terms of bad, or non-performing loans (NPL). At the same time he downplayed the likelihood of capital controls in Turkey, saying they were "very far" from S&P's baseline expectation and would only be used as a last resort by the country's government.
Announcement of Periodic Review: Moody's announces completion of a periodic review of ratings of Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. London, 30 April 2019 -- Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has completed a periodic review of the ratings of Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. and other ratings that are associated with the same analytical unit. The review was conducted through a portfolio review in which Moody's reassessed the appropriateness of the ratings in the context of the relevant principal methodology(ies), recent developments, and a comparison of the financial and operating profile to similarly rated peers.
Turkey has positive expectations about the Iran sanctions-busting case in the United States involving Turkish state-owned lender Halkbank, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said, following talks with his U.S. counterpart. Albayrak's comments came after President Tayyip Erdogan announced over the weekend that he had discussed the bank with U.S. President Donald Trump. Erdogan gave few details of those talks but his comments came amid indications that Washington and Ankara are trying to mend ties that have been in crisis this year over a host of issues, including the conviction of a Halkbank executive for helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
Shares in Turkey's state-owned Halkbank surged on Monday, after President Tayyip Erdogan announced over the weekend that he had discussed the bank with U.S. President Donald Trump. Shares of Halkbank were ...