Turkish bank linked to Giuliani client charged with fraud, money laundering in New York

Federal prosecutors have charged a Turkish bank with ties to a former client of President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  Trump campaign seeks debate in early September Nunes declines to answer if he received information from Ukraine lawmaker meant to damage Biden MORE in connection with an alleged scheme to evade sanctions on Iran, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

The six-count indictment alleges that Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS (Halkbank) was part of a conspiracy to give Tehran access to billions of dollars in defiance of sanctions that it concealed from U.S. regulators.

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“As alleged in today’s indictment, Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

“The bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme. Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court,” Berman added.

Reports last week said that in 2017, Trump pressured then-Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe four China strategies Trump or Biden will need to consider Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet How the US could respond to Russia's support of the Taliban MORE to help convince the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who was himself charged in a sanctions-evasion scheme and represented by Giuliani.

Zarrab eventually pleaded guilty and testified against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who headed international banking at Halkbank, also claiming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was aware of the laundering effort.

While Erdoğan has denied Zarrab’s allegations, the statement from the U.S. attorney's office says unnamed “high-ranking government officials in Iran and Turkey participated in and protected this scheme,” with some of them accepting bribes worth tens of millions of dollars to promote the conspiracy, protect conspirators and conceal the scheme from regulatory scrutiny.