Turkey will protect banks from Zarrab case fallout, says minister

Published: December 7, 2017
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Detained Azerbaijani businessman Reza Zarrab is surrounded by journalists as he arrives at a police center in Istanbul. PHOTO: AFP

Detained Azerbaijani businessman Reza Zarrab is surrounded by journalists as he arrives at a police center in Istanbul. PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s government will take necessary measures if its banking system is impacted by an ongoing US court case over alleged Iran sanctions evasion, Finance Minister Naci Agbal told Reuters in an interview.

Agbal said Ankara would do whatever was needed to protect the interests of its banks, comments aimed at easing investor concern about the potential fall-out from the trial of an executive of state lender Halkbank.

Gold trader says he paid bribes to get out of Turkish jail after 2013 arrest

“We say if anything is going to happen, in this situation we will stand by the banks,” he said late on Wednesday. “We must not allow any eventuality that would weaken our banking system.”

A wealthy Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, has pleaded guilty to charges that he schemed to help Iran evade US sanctions and is testifying in a US court against the Halkbank executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, for related charges.

Turkish gold trader implicates Erdogan in Iran money laundering

Atilla has pleaded innocent and Halkbank has said all of its transactions have complied with international and domestic regulations.

Ankara has said the case is politically motivated and an attempt to undermine Turkey’s economy and government.

International investors have expressed concern that banks could be drawn into the US case. Agbal also said the government was determined to take all steps to reduce forex volatility.

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