March 31, 2017 / 5:16 AM / 2 years ago

Turkey's Halkbank says operations, transactions comply with international regulations

Turkey's Halkbank headquarters are seen in Ankara December 17, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish state-run lender Halkbank’s operations and transactions fully comply with national and international regulations, it said in a statement regarding the arrest of its deputy general manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla in the United States.

Atilla was charged on Tuesday with participating in a multi-year scheme to violate sanctions against Iran and conspiring with Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is already on trial in a case which has caused tensions between Turkey and the United States.

In a statement released to the Istanbul stock exchange late on Thursday, Halkbank (HALKB.IS) said there was news in some media organs in recent days discrediting the bank and misleading the public and investors regarding his arrest.

“Our Bank’s operations and transactions fully comply with national and international regulations all the time. Our Bank takes all measures to protect its shareholders, business partners and depositors’ rights,” the statement said.

Turkey’s foreign and justice ministers on Thursday described the arrest of Atilla as a “political” move. President Tayyip Erdogan has said he believed U.S. authorities had “ulterior motives” in prosecuting Zarrab, who was arrested in March 2016 in Miami.

Shares of Halkbank, Turkey’s fifth-largest listed bank by assets, endured their biggest one-day fall on Wednesday, falling 14 percent after news of the arrest emerged.

Atilla is accused of conspiring with Zarrab to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal transactions through U.S. banks on behalf of Iran’s government and other entities in that country.

“Our Bank has not intermediated any transaction in which any prohibited party or person or goods or services have been involved,” Halkbank said in the statement, which was also published on the back page of Turkish newspapers on Friday.

It said the U.S. financial system and currency have not been used for such transactions related to trade with the country mentioned in the allegations.

Writing by Daren Butler

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