Turkish ambassador: Iran should be grateful to Halkbank

Iran Materials 25 December 2013 11:36 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 25

By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

Iran should be grateful to Halkbank for its valuable services to the country during the sanction period, Turkish ambassador to Tehran, Umit Yardim said, ISNA news agency reported on Dec. 25.

"Halkbank has a positive and effective role on the Iran-Turkey economic relations," Yardim said.

"The private banks are unable to render such services due to concerns and pressure," he added.

Commenting on the money transfer between Iran and Turkey, the ambassador underlined that the money transfer between two countries faced problems due to sanctions but they can easily transfer money in the non-sanctioned areas.

Turkey's state-owned Halkbank, whose chief executive was arrested in connection with a sweeping graft investigation, said on Dec. 23 that it complied with the law when doing business with sanctions hit Iran, Today`s Zaman reported.

Halkbank's Iranian business ties had drawn Western disapproval amid U.S.-led efforts to curb Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Turkey has bought natural gas and oil from Iran through an indirect system whereby Iranian exporters received payment in Halkbank lira accounts and used that money to buy gold. The bulk of that gold was then shipped from Turkey to Dubai, where Iran could import it or sell it for foreign currency. In a filing with the Istanbul stock exchange, Halkbank said it had complied with the law in its business with Iran.

"There was no domestic or international rule or ban that prevented the sale of precious metals to Iran until July 1, 2013," the bank said in a statement, adding that it had stopped such transactions on June 10.

Halkbank had also been processing a portion of India's payments for Iranian oil.

"The source of the funds used in these transactions and the parties to this trade are open, transparent and traceable in the system," according to the statement.

Halkbank Chief Executive Suleyman Aslan and the sons of two cabinet ministers are in custody in connection with the corruption inquiry.