A Turkish state-run bank whose services were allegedly used in an elaborate scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions, issued a statement on Thursday denying any wrongdoing, as a high-profile trial on the case continues in New York.
Halkbank’s denial came as Reza Zarrab, the defendant and alleged mastermind of the complex arrangement, is set to take the stand for the second day of testimony.
Zarrab has turned witness for the U.S. prosecution.
“It is out of the question as alleged that there was a systematic and conscious violation aimed at evading sanctions in transactions that are subject to sanctions.
“The bank did not mediate in the exports of the banned parties and goods,’’ the bank’s statement said.
The only person on trial now is Mehmet Atilla, a former Halkbank deputy chief executive, defending against charges including bank fraud and sanctions violations.
Nine people were originally indicted, although only Zarrab and Atilla are in the U.S.
The others include a former Turkish minister, who was allegedly given tens of millions of dollars in bribes by Zarrab, and the former CEO of Halkbank.
President Recep Erdogan told newsmen that they did the right thing no matter the determination of the case.
“We did not violate the embargo, what justice do we expect from such a court? I do not expect justice from there,’’ Erdogan said.
The Iran sanctions case has been dismissed by Turkish authorities as a “theatre.”
“Those who wrote this script are doing what is needed for the script,’’ Turkish government Spokesman Bekir Bozdag told local media.