US prosecutors have charged Turkey’s Halkbank bank over its alleged role in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade sanctions on Iran, the Justice Department said in a press release.

"Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S., a/k/a 'Halkbank', was charged today in a six-count indictment with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran," the release said on Tuesday.

The department said Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials.

In the process, the Turkish bank illicitly transferred approximately $20 billion worth of otherwise restricted Iranian funds to Iranian parties, the department said.

According to the indictment, high-ranking government officials in Iran and Turkey were also involved and bribes worth tens of millions of dollars paid to promote the scheme, protect the participants and shield them from the scrutiny of US regulators.