Friday 16 November 2018
News ID: 45550
Publish Date: 21 October 2017 - 22:14


ANKARA (Dispatches) -- Six Turkish banks face billions of dollars of fines from U.S. authorities over alleged violations of sanctions with Iran, the Haberturk newspaper reported on Saturday, citing senior banking sources.
The report could not be independently verified. Two senior Turkish economy officials told Reuters that Turkey has not received any notice from the United States about such penalties, adding that U.S. regulators would normally inform the finance ministry's financial crimes investigation board.
Turkey's BDDK banking regulator urged the public to ignore rumors about financial institutions, saying Turkey's banks were functioning well.
The BDDK's statement appeared to be a response to a report by the Haberturk newspaper.
"It has been brought to the public's attention that stories, that are rumors in nature, about our banks are not based on documents or facts, and should not heeded," it said.
The report comes as relations between Washington and Ankara have been strained by a series of diplomatic rows, prompting both countries to cut back issuing visas to each other's citizens.
Haberturk did not name the six banks potentially facing the fines. One bank will face a penalty in excess of $5 billion, while the rest of the fines will be lower, it said.
U.S. officials will notify the banks of their penalties in the coming days and the banks are likely to be able to negotiate down the fines, Haberturk said.
U.S. authorities have hit global banks with billions of dollars in fines over violations of sanctions with Iran and other countries in recent years.
U.S. prosecutors last month charged a former Turkish economy minister and the ex-head of a state-owned bank with conspiring to violate Iran sanctions by illegally moving hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on Tehran's behalf.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed the charges as politically motivated, and tantamount to an attack on the Turkish Republic.
The charges stem from the case against Reza Zarrab, a wealthy Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was arrested in the United States over sanctions evasion last year. Erdogan has said U.S. authorities had "ulterior motives" in charging Zarrab, who has pleaded not guilty.
The charges also come as the Trump administration is ramping up its bellicose measures against the Islamic Republic.
The House will vote next week on a bill sanctioning Iran over its ballistic missile program, GOP leaders said Friday.
Lawmakers plan to quickly pass the Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act. The bill won unanimous approval from the House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier in October and is expected to be considered under special rules limiting debate time and requiring two-thirds majority for passage.
The measure would expand sanctions against Iran, which has continued to expand its missile program in the face of U.S. and Israeli threats.
It would also sanction Hezbollah, which bill sponsor Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said "has thousands of fighters in Syria, well positioning itself to intensify its original mission, the destruction of Israel."
The bill comes as House and Senate Republicans seek additional ways to punish Iran over its missile program and supporting resistance movements without purportedly undercutting the nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump declined to recertify earlier this month, leaving the fate of the deal in the hands of Congress.
Royce last month denounced the agreement. He did not call on Congress to walk away from it but rather to "enforce the hell out of it," with the new sanctions bill serving as a first step.
The bill would sanction foreign persons and entities who knowingly help Iran expand its ballistic missile program.
"It is Congress's responsibility to work with the executive branch on a clear-eyed strategy to stop Iran's reckless behavior," Royce and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner.



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