By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - A U.S. judge in New York set Feb. 10 for Turkey's Halkbank to challenge possibly being held in contempt of ongoing proceedings.
District Court Judge Richard Berman said in a three-page order that the bank and its counsel have failed to heed two summonses issued since October after a grand jury returned an indictment against Halkbank tied to alleged efforts to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Halkbank had sought to make a "special and limited appearance" before the court in order to have the case dropped without having to formally participate in it, but Berman denied the effort last week.
Berman said Halkbank and its counsel failed to appear to an Oct. 22 hearing, and that in so doing it "willfully and knowingly disobeyed the Court's order." A second hearing held on Nov. 5 saw Halkbank's counsel, listed as King & Spalding, appear but with the sole intent of seeking permission for the "special and limited appearance."
Berman further ordered federal prosecutors to prepare by Jan. 3 possible penalties should Halkbank continue to decline to participate.
In July, Hakan Atilla, 48, the former deputy director-general at the Turkish state lender, was released from a federal prison. He was sentenced in May 2018 in New York for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.