Judge Sotomayor Makes Big Decision That Could Impact Turkey Relations

(NewsGlobal.com)- Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s impending under-the-radar decision on whether the U.S. Justice Department can proceed with a prosecution against Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank could have significant effects on U.S.-Turkey relations. It could serve as a catalyst for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to attack the U.S. and its interests.

After the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Justice Department’s ability to bring charges against Halkbank last year, Sotomayor is scheduled to review the case. She will handle matters that come from this appeals court.

According to the authorities, Halkbank took part in a conspiracy to assist Iran in evading U.S. sanctions between 2012 and 2016 that were meant to limit Iran’s access to the escrowed cash held at Halkbank. To conceal the monies’ connection to Iran so they could be used to make international payments on Iran’s behalf, the indictment claims Halkbank engaged in activities within Turkey. A tiny portion of the money, which the government estimates to be $1 billion, is said to have eventually moved through correspondent accounts in the United States after leaving Halkbank and following many more intermediary three transactions.

Additionally, it is claimed that former Halkbank executives misled US Department of the Treasury representatives about the transactions.

A grand jury handed a six-count indictment against Halkbank in October 2019, accusing it of scheming to defraud the US, breaking the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, committing bank fraud, and conspiring to conduct bank fraud, laundering money, and more. In March 2020, Halkbank entered a not-guilty plea to all charges.

Halkbank filed a motion to dismiss the charge on August 10, 2020, claiming protection from criminal prosecution due to foreign sovereign immunity, among other reasons. In addition, Halkbank claimed it was entitled to sovereign immunity under either the FSIA or common law of foreign sovereign immunity and that the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the criminal case against a foreign sovereign.

The court of appeals came to the conclusion that it had jurisdiction to hear the appeal in response to the government’s move to dismiss.