Despite corruption, Turkey says Halkbank will keep handling Iran energy payments
ANKARA - Turkey said on Wednesday that the state-owned Halkbank, whose chief executive was rounded up in a sweeping graft probe, would keep on handling payments for energy imports from neighbouring Iran.
"The Iranian state has accounts with Halkbank. We deposit the payments for the oil and gas to these accounts," Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said in an interview with Bloomberg HT television.
"Halkbank will keep on carrying out this task," he said.
The bank's chief executive, Suleyman Aslan, is one of dozens of top Turkish businessmen targeted by police in a corruption scandal engulfing the government of Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan.
He is charged with bribery after police had reportedly found $4.5 million secreted in shoe boxes in his home.
Halkbank is under fire for being involved in gold sales to Iran in return for energy imports to Turkey that dodge international sanctions on Iran.
Turkey, which has little of its own energy resources, remains one of the largest customers for Iranian oil and a major buyer of its natural gas, but denies that it has busted sanctions.
Turkey is also planning to use Halkbank as an intermediary for oil payments to the Iraqi region of Kurdistan.