Turkish minister says government to do whatever necessary if banking sector affected by U.S. trial

Mehmet Şimşek said Turkish government will do whatever is necessary if its banking sector is affected by the U.S. trial of a Turkish bank executive
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 22:53

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said on Wednesday Turkey will do whatever is necessary if its banking sector is affected by the U.S. trial of a Turkish bank executive in a case regarding a conspiracy to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

"Yesterday as our prime minister expressed clearly, Turkey will do whatever is necessary to support its banking sector," Şimşek said during the 8th Bosphorus Summit held in Istanbul.

"If the banking sector is affected by this case, we will do whatever is needed. We are watching this case, which has considerable political dimensions. Nevertheless, the banking sector has a large resilience to shocks."

Şimşek's comments come amid a U.S. trial in which Iranian-Turkish tycoon Reza Zarrab, detained last year for alleged sanctions evasion, is due to testify in the case of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy CEO of state-owned Halkbank.

U.S. prosecutors have charged nine people in the case, though only Zarrab and Atilla are known to be in American custody. The other defendants include the former head of Halkbank, Süleyman Aslan, and Turkey's former economic minister, Zafer Çağlayan. 

Zarrab said he agreed in 2012 to share half of his profits from the deal with Turkey's then-economy minister Zafer Çağlayan. Zarrab said he paid Çağlayan bribes amounting to more than $50 million. In exchange, he said, Çağlayan helped broker a deal in which Zarrab worked with Halkbank to help Iran use its money abroad through gold transactions.

He said former Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs, Egemen Bağış, had helped him obtain an account at Aktifbank. He said that it began when he sought to open an account at Aktifbank but was unable to do so because people dealing with Iran needed special permission. At the time, Aktifbank was owned by a group led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law.