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US judge threatens Turkey's Halk Bankası with contempt charges

A U.S. district court judge warned that he would hold Türkiye Halk Bankası AŞ in contempt and fine it if it continues to refuse to acknowledge the sanctions evasions charges brought against it by federal prosecutors in New York, Bloomberg News reported.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman issued a hearing date for Feb. 10 and ordered lawyers to file contempt charges if the bank continues to ignore the court's summons, Bloomberg News said. Last week, Berman rejected Halkbank's request for a "special appearance" to dispute the U.S. court's jurisdiction over the case without formally responding to the charges, on grounds that there was no such established practice in criminal cases.

"If Halkbank wishes the district court to decide its jurisdictional motion, this international bank holds the key to unlock its dilemma: travel to New York and answer the charges or have its legal counsel do so," Berman said in the official ruling statement.

Meanwhile, Halkbank responded that it would use every legal right to challenge the decision and defend its stance that the U.S. court has no jurisdiction over the case considering the bank does not operate in the country, according to a Reuters report.

U.S. prosecutors filed charges in October against Halkbank for allegedly taking part in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade sanctions.