US Treasury dispels rumor over warning Turkey about sanctions
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin squashed speculation that he warned Turkish officials of possible sanctions targeting the nation.
“I did have conversations with them, I did not have specific conversations on sanctions,” Mnuchin told reporters aboard a US Air Force plane to Abu Dhabi on Saturday, referring to talks with Turkey during an International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington earlier this month. “There is no truth to those rumors,” Bloomberg reported.
His comments came in the wake of a volatile week for Turkish assets. Stocks, bonds and the lira fell after a report in a local newspaper earlier this month said six Turkish banks may face penalties resulting from a US investigation into their dealings with Iran, even after regulators denied the news and the publisher pulled the story.
In an effort to address some of the concerns, Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said Halkbank, a state-run lender that acted as a medium of payments for imports from Iran, did nothing in violation of US sanctions against Tehran.
Halkbank, Turkey’s second-largest state bank, itself hasn’t been charged with any crime and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, though the developments have curtailed the share price performance this year. However, three executives from the bank have been charged in the US for violating the sanctions and banking fraud.
Mnuchin is on a six-day visit to the region to discuss the Trump administration’s new Iran strategy.
Turkey’s banking regulator also urged the public on October 21 to ignore rumors about financial institutions, in an apparent dismissal of the report that some Turkish banks face billions of dollars of US fines over alleged violations of sanctions.
“The news definitely does not reflect the truth,” the head of the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency, or BDDK, Mehmet Ali Akben told Bloomberg News by phone.
“There’s no investigation into Turkish banks. We have received no information or documents from the US,” Akben said.