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On Turkey Halkbank Case Senator Wyden Urges AG Barr To Recuse Himself

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon, Thread Video
Honduras - The Source - The Root - etc

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 3 – Turkey's Halkbank was indicted for Iran sanctions violations and money laundering on October 15 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. On October 21, Turkey named convicted former Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla as the new managing director of Borsa Istanbul.

  On December 26 SDNY Judge Richard M. Berman issued an order "respectfully denying" Halkbank's attempt to stay the proceedings before him.

 But as released at 7:47 am on February 3, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued an administrative stay pending expedited referral to and review by a three-judge panel, see below.

 And Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has urged US Attorney Barr to recuse himself from the Halkbank case, photo here. We'll have more on this.

Here's the 2d Circuit order:  "ORDER of USCA (Certified Copy) as to Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. USCA Case Number 19-4203. Petitioner moves for an emergency stay of proceedings in the district court pending decision on its petition for a writ of mandamus and further moves for an expedited decision. The Government opposes the motion to stay. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, to the extent the motion to stay seeks a temporary administrative stay pending determination of the motion by a three-judge panel, the motion is GRANTED. The motion is REFERRED to a three-judge motions panel on an expedited basis. Catherine O'Hagan Wolfe, Clerk USCA for the Second Circuit, Clerk USCA. Certified: 1/31/2020." More on Patreon here.

 On December 19, the US Attorney's Office wrote to Judge Berman: "The Government respectfully submits this letter in response to a motion by Turkiye Halk Bankasi, A.S. (“Halkbank” or the “defendant”) to stay all proceedings in this matter (the “Motion” or “Mot.”). Halkbank asks for a stay because it filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Court of Appeals on December 17, 2019, seeking an order directing this Court to allow Halkbank to enter a special appearance to challenge personal jurisdiction and to seek recusal of the presiding District Judge. The stay request is at the very least premature, and in any event unnecessary to prevent irreparable harm, and the Government opposes a stay. The Government does, however, ask that the briefing schedule in connection with the show-cause hearing currently scheduled for February 10, 2020 be adjourned as described below to allow additional time for the Circuit’s response to the petition.    the Government does request a modest adjournment of the briefing schedule in connection with the February 10 hearing. Though the Circuit could deny the petition without further briefing, the Circuit may also order the Government to respond to the petition. Id. Because Halkbank did not file its petition until the week before the holidays, the Circuit may not issue its response to the petition before the Government’s brief is due on January 3, 2020. Accordingly, we ask that the briefing schedule be adjourned in order to provide additional time for the Circuit’s response. The Government requests that the schedule be adjourned as follows: the Government’s brief and related filings to be filed by January 17, 2020; Halkbank’s opposition (if any) due by January 31, 2020; and the Government’s reply due by February 5, 2020. In the event of changed circumstances arising out of the Court of Appeals’ response to the petition, they can be addressed at that time."

  There was a footnote: "Halkbank’s contention about “a negative impact on the bilateral relationship between the United States and the Republic of Turkey” is irrelevant. Whatever impact Halkbank’s own contumacious refusal to comply with the summonses may have on diplomatic relations does not favor providing Halkbank with further opportunities to evade this Court’s jurisdiction. Moreover, the Supreme Court has cautioned against courts “impinging on the discretion of the Legislative and Executive Branches in managing foreign affairs.” Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 569 U.S. 108, 116 (2013) (quoting Sosa v. Alvarez-Manchain, 542 U.S. 692, 727 (2004)). Purported foreign affairs implications do not alter the application of clear law or warrant treating Halkbank differently from any other party before the Court." How might this apply to the total impunity of the UN? Watch this site.

On December 5 Judge Berman issued a more detailed order denying the application by King & Spalding to make a "special appearance" in this criminal case. Judge Berman last month in his courtroom asked if there is any Second Circuit Court of Appeals precedent. On December 5 he wrote and ruled:

"The Second Circuit recognizes that a defendant may become a fugitive when, “having learned of charges while legally outside the jurisdiction, [the defendant] ‘constructively flees’ by deciding not to return.” See United States v. Catino, 735 F.2d 718, 722 (2d Cir. 1984); see also United States v. Blanco, 861 F.2d 773, 779 (2d Cir. 1988) (“A person can be said to be a fugitive when, while abroad, they learn that they are under indictment and make no effort to return to the United States to face charges.”). It appears to the Court that this is what Halkbank – which is an important institution in Turkey – has done so far in this case. “The primary purpose of the fugitive disentitlement doctrine—promoting mutuality of litigation—is served both when a defendant flees the United States and when he chooses to remain outside the United States.” Miller, 166 F. Supp. 3d at 348; see also Martirossian, 917 F.3d at 890 (where the Court confirmed that “a defendant need not be Case 1:15-cr-00867-RMB Document 581 Filed 12/05/19 Page 26 of 27  27  present in and leave a jurisdiction to become a fugitive; the mere refusal to report for prosecution can constitute constructive flight”). Halkbank has failed to appear following the service of two summonses, with full knowledge and notice of the charges in the Indictment and of the related Atilla and Zarrab cases. See pp. 3–5 above. Halkbank has also been represented by U.S. legal counsel, Mr. Hruska of King & Spaulding LLP, for at least two years in connection with the U.S. criminal investigation of Halkbank’s alleged Iran sanctions evasion. See Gov. Letter, dated Nov. 4, 2019, at 1.

And, this Court has found that “Halkbank has willfully and knowingly disobeyed the Court’s order in the First Summons to appear at the First Conference.” Order, dated Oct. 23, 2019, at 3. The fugitive disentitlement doctrine exists to encourage compliance with the law and to protect against entities that “‘attempt to invoke from a safe distance only so much of a United States court’s jurisdiction as might secure . . . a dismissal while carefully shielding [itself] from the possibility of a penal sanction.’” Hayes, 118 F. Supp. 3d at 625–26 (brackets omitted) (quoting Collazos v. United States, 368 F.3d 190, 200 (2d Cir. 2004)); see also Niemi v. Lasshofer, 728 F.3d 1252, 1255 (10th Cir. 2013).

IV. Conclusion & Order For the reasons stated above, the Court denies Halkbank’s application, dated November 19, 2019, to make a special appearance."

    Back on November 26 the US Attorney office  opposed the special appearance, noting "Halkbank participates in a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides guaranteed financing for certain buyers of U.S. agricultural exports.  In order to shield its access to these essential U.S. financial markets and facilities, Halkbank went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the scheme from Treasury officials. Because of Halkbank’s relationships with the Central Bank of Iran, NIOC, and other Iranian government and private entities, sanctions against the Government of Iran had particular significance for Halkbank and Treasury believed Halkbank was at particular risk of Iranian sanctions-evasion efforts. Accordingly, Treasury officials maintained continuous and in-depth communications with Halkbank’s top executives. These included in-person meetings held in Treasury’s Washington, D.C. offices and Halkbank’s Turkey offices; telephone calls between Halkbank executives in Turkey and Treasury officials in the United States; and letter and email correspondence." We'll have more on this.

  King & Spalding's Andrew C. Hruska wanted to file by ECF without making a notice of appearance. Judge Berman said he believes a notice of appearance is required, and would not give legal advise on what should be written on it. King and Spalding said they will file on paper, presumably meaning their briefing.

  Of this lawless attempt to escape the court's reach, Inner City Press asked the UN which has made worse arguments for impunity for bringing cholera to Haiti for its comment (Turkish state media were present in the SDNY on November 5). There has been no answer from the UN.


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