A US court on Friday denied an appeal from Turkish state-owned Halkbank, allowing a case to proceed against the financial institution for helping Iran skirt American sanctions, Agence France-Presse reported.
The bank had asked the court to block the lawsuit and argued it had sovereign immunity under US law, however the judges said the charges “fall under the commercial activity exception” to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
The bank is charged “with participating in a multi-year scheme to launder billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil and natural gas proceeds in violation of US sanctions.”
The funds were used to buy gold and the transactions were disguised as food and medicine purchases in order to fall under a humanitarian exemption to the sanctions, according to court documents.
Halkbank allegedly used front companies to funnel $20 billion to Iran, including $1 billion through the US financial system.