Turkey's actions in Halkbank increase after Iran sanctioned the trial

(Add details, background) ISTANBUL, Feb. 4 (Reuters) - Turkey's Halkbank shares rose up to 8% on Tuesday after a US appeals court agreed to pause a case alleging that the state lender evaded US sanctions against Iran. In December, federal district judge Richard Berman rejected a request from the bank for the charges to be dropped. But the bank appealed that ruling and, on Monday, the matter was referred to an appeals court panel of three judges. At 0922 GMT, the bank's shares rose 6.7%, after having increased almost 8%. US prosecutors allege that, from 2012 to 2016, Halkbank and its executives used money managers and front companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to evade US sanctions against Iran. The charges, filed in October, reflect those against former Halkbank Mehmet executive Hakan Atilla, who was arrested in New York in 2017 and sentenced to 32 months in prison after a trial in the same court. Prosecutors said Halkbank conducted transactions on behalf of Iran that would have exposed the bank to sanctions, including allowing revenues from oil and gas sales to be spent on gold and facilitating fake purchases of food and medicine. Halkbank's lawyers have said that the bank's incidental contacts with the United States are insufficient to establish jurisdiction in the federal court of New York. The charges against the bank were announced a day after US President Donald Trump briefly imposed sanctions on Turkey following the launch of a military offensive against Kurdish-led militia in northeastern Syria. United States Senate Finance Committee member Ron Wyden, a Democrat, said he sent a letter Monday to Attorney General William Barr asking if Trump had tried to intervene on behalf of Halkbank. He asked Barr to detail his interactions with Trump, President Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak. Noting that the charges occurred days after the Turkish operation in northeastern Syria, Wyden added: I am concerned that, in the absence of these actions by the Turkish government, the Administration's interference in favor of Halkbank's requests for Turkey could have undermined years of efforts by US law enforcement. Wyden had made the same accusation in October, when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the Turks were told that the Halkbank case was a matter of the U.S. judiciary. (Report by Ali Kucukgocmen and Ebru Tuncay; Edition of Jonathan Spicer, Daren Butler and John Stonestreet) This story has not been edited by The Times of India and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe. (This story has not been edited by timesofindia.com and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe.)