By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — A judge cited “extraordinary” and “remarkable” meetings two years ago involving top U.S. and Turkey political figures to intervene in a New York prosecution Thursday as he rejected efforts by a state-owned bank in Turkey to now feign ignorance of criminal charges it faces in the same case.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman in Manhattan said Halkbank, in effect, could be labeled a fugitive if it refused to send lawyers to represent it against the charges.
A message was left with a lawyer for the bank.
At a hearing last month, Berman said legal maneuvers by the bank were “kind of crazy” as its lawyers asked to challenge the right of an American court and Berman in particular to handle the case but refused to enter a plea on the bank’s behalf.
Halkbank was charged with evading sanctions against Iran by processing billions of dollars of Iranian oil revenue. An indictment said the bank illegally moved about $20 billion in Iranian oil and gas revenues, sometimes disguising money movements as purchases of food and medicine so they’d qualify for a “humanitarian exception” to sanctions.
Although the bank was not charged until recently, the allegations involving it surfaced in 2015 when a wealthy Turkish-Iranian gold trader was arrested on sanctions charges as he arrived in the U.S. to take his family to Disney World in Florida.
The trader — Reza Zarrab — hired Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, to try to…