US pros­e­cu­tors drop ex­ten­sion of Turk­ish banker’s sen­tence

Arab News - - Business News - Reuters Ankara

New York pros­e­cu­tors have with­drawn an ap­peal to ex­tend the sen­tence of a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive at Turkey’s state-owned lender Halk­bank, said Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency.

Halk­bank shares rose nearly 4 per­cent af­ter the re­port as mar­ket par­tic­i­pants saw the move as fur­ther in­di­ca­tion of an im­prove­ment in diplo­matic ties be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Ankara.

A US court sen­tenced Hakan Atilla, an ex­ec­u­tive from Halk­bank, to 32 months in prison in May for help­ing Iran evade US sanc­tions in a case that has strained al­ready tense ties be­tween NATO al­lies Ankara and Wash­ing­ton. Halk­bank, which de­nies any wrong­do­ing, has since faced po­ten­tial US fines in re­la­tion to the case, which Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan has con­demned as a po­lit­i­cal at­tack against his gov­ern­ment.

The Turk­ish news agency Anadolu, with­out cit­ing sources, said the New York prose­cu­tor’s of­fice had orig­i­nally filed the ap­peal, say­ing the sen­tence was too short. It said the court had asked pros­e­cu­tors to present de­tails of the ap­peal by Dec. 6, but that the ap­peal had later been with­drawn.

No fur­ther de­tails were im­me­di­ately avail­able and the New York prose­cu­tor’s of­fice was not avail­able for com­ment, hav­ing yet to open on Fri­day morn­ing.

Halk­bank’s dol­lar-de­nom­i­nated bonds jumped 0.74 cents to 84.70 cents af­ter the re­port.

Last month, Turk­ish For­eign Min- is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu said af­ter talks with US of­fi­cials in Wash­ing­ton that the two sides had dis­cussed re­turn­ing Atilla to Turkey where he can serve the rest of his sen­tence.

Er­do­gan also said last month that he had dis­cussed the case of Halk­bank with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, say­ing the talks were on a “pos­i­tive path.” He said, with­out elab­o­rat­ing, that Trump had told him “he would in­struct the rel­e­vant min­is­ters im­me­di­ately” re­gard­ing the case.

Atilla is ex­pected to be re­leased on July 25, Anadolu said. He had al­ready served 14 months when he was sen­tenced.

Ten­sions be­tween the NATO al­lies ac­cel­er­ated a lira sell-off this year, al­though the cur­rency’s per­for­mance has im­proved in tan­dem with diplo­matic ties.

Re­la­tions be­tween Ankara and Wash­ing­ton be­gan to im­prove af­ter US pas­tor An­drew Brun­son, who was on trial over ter­ror-re­lated charges in Turkey, was re­leased in Oc­to­ber.

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