U.S. authorities charged late Tuesday an executive of state-owned bank Halkbank with conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran as part of a broader investigation.
Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy general manager of the bank, is accused of conspiring with Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, according to a criminal complaint filed in a federal court in New York.
Atilla, 47, was detained by FBI agents at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Monday. The arrest, made in connection with the pending prosecution of Zarrab, was made public one day after.
Atilla's trial is set for Monday, April 10.
U.S. prosecutors charged Iranian-born Zarrab and others of engaging in trade transactions for the Iranian government and entities from 2010 to 2015 in a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions.
Speaking to Bloomberg HT news channel, Halkbank General Manager Ali Fuat Taşkesenlioğlu said that they could not obtain any information from the U.S. regarding the process. "Our relations with Iran are transparent, without any doubt. We have been through all types of audits," he added.
Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci also commented on the issue. "It is noteworthy that this takes place just before the April 16 referendum. If there were such motives, they could have shared the information with us beforehand," he added.