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Halkbank shares surge after Iran sanctions trial paused: report

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Shares of Turkey’s Halkbank jumped as much as 8 percent on Tuesday after a US appeals court agreed to pause a case alleging that the state-owned lender evaded US sanctions on Iran, Reuters reported.

In December, US District Judge Richard Berman rejected a request by the bank to have the charges dropped. But the bank appealed that judgment and, on Monday, the matter was referred to a three-judge appeals court panel.

At 0922 GMT, the bank’s shares were up 6.7 percent, after earlier surging nearly 8 percent.

US prosecutors allege that, from 2012 to 2016, Halkbank and its executives used money servicers and front companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to evade US sanctions on Iran.

The charges, brought in October, mirror those against former Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was arrested in New York in 2017 and sentenced to 32 months in prison after a trial in the same court.

Prosecutors said Halkbank undertook transactions on Iran’s behalf that would have exposed the bank to sanctions, including allowing revenue from oil and gas sales to be spent on gold, and facilitating sham purchases of food and medicine.

Halkbank’s lawyers have said the bank’s “incidental contacts” with the United States are insufficient to establish jurisdiction in the New York federal court.

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