Trump Ordered Review of U.S. Sanctions on Turkey’s Halkbank
26 Nov 2019

President Donald Trump told the Treasury Department and Justice Department to look into the impact of U.S. sanctions on a Turkish state-owned bank after being lobbied by Turkey’s president, a Treasury official acknowledged in a letter last week to a top Democratic senator.

The letter, sent in response to queries by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, outlined seven meetings Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had with senior Turkish officials from April 2017 through this month, but didn’t detail what was discussed or answer other questions posed by Wyden, who is the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Bloomberg News reported in October that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made repeated entreaties to Trump to avoid charges against Halkbank, one of Turkey’s largest lenders. Trump assigned Mnuchin and Attorney General William Barr to look into the issue after an April phone call with Erdogan.

After the call, no action was taken against the bank for months. That changed in October, when U.S. prosecutors unveiled an undated indictment accusing the bank of fraud, money laundering and violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Wyden in an October letter to Mnuchin demanded that the Treasury provide information as part of an inquiry into whether he or other administration officials interfered with the U.S. investigation.

By Joe Light, Bloomberg, 25 November 2019

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