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Turkish finance minister upbeat over Halkbank sanctions-busting case

Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak speaks during an event to announce his programme to fight inflation, in Istanbul, Turkey October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

ANKARA (Reuters) - 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.

A U.S. court in May jailed a Halkbank executive for helping Tehran get round U.S. sanctions. Halkbank faces potential U.S. fines in relation to that case.

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.

“We had a positive meeting with our U.S. counterpart (Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin). He said he would follow the process closely,” Erdogan’s son-in-law Albayrak told broadcaster A Haber.

“We told them that Halkbank had not violated sanctions (...) We have positive expectations,” he said.

Shares in Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank surged 5.88 to 7.37 lira. The lender’s dollar-denominated bonds rallied sharply, with some issues adding nearly 3 cents to trade at their highest since at least June.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu, additional reporting by Karin Strohecker in London; Editing by Daren Butler and Jon Boyle