Halkbank headquarters in Ankara, Turkey
Source: Press TV
Turkey's Halkbank has announced that it will continue to handle customer oil payments to Iran as long as they comply with international regulations.
Halkbank has been used by Iran and its oil customers as a main conduit for financial transactions.
The bank's dealings with Iran drew attention last year when Indian refiners disclosed they were channeling oil payments through the Turkish bank as their own central bank had shut its payment facility, fearing US retribution.
Speaking to Reuters, Halkbank's General Manager, Suleyman Aslan, said the bank also processes the payments to Iran via Tupras, Turkey's sole refiner and a unit of Koc Holding, the country's largest conglomerate.
The official further stressed that a decision to reject an application submitted by the Indian refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp BPCL in December 2011, was unrelated to its trade deals with Iran.
"We do not make any specific decision based on Iran or any other country. We have customers, and these customers approach us and we look at their transactions. This transaction may be in India, it may be in Iran it may be in another country," Aslan said.
He went on to say that the communication channels "with all sides, including the United States," were open and that apart from India, the bank was not handling payments to Iran from other third countries.
"If it is legitimate business, we will carry out the job within the framework of international regulations and international standard practice."
On Dec. 31, President Barack Obama signed into law a fresh set of sanctions targeting financial institutions that deal with Iran's Central Bank to stem the flow of oil revenue.
The European Union followed with a ban on Iranian oil this week that is expected to take full effect within six months.
Turkish officials have repeatedly said there is no obligation for Turkey to enforce tougher unilateral sanctions subsequently announced by the United States and European Union.