September 6, 2014

Bank Asya account holders threatened against making deposits

Holders of accounts with the Islamic lender Bank Asya have been subjected to threats about making deposits, while being urged to withdraw money from their accounts, according to a report on Thursday in TheLira, an online financial outlet.

Individuals who spoke with TheLira said they had received calls from blocked numbers who had mysteriously obtained information regarding their bank account. “We know that you are a good person and we do not want to see you harmed by Bank Asya. It would be much better if you withdrew your money,” said an anonymous caller to one Bank Asya account holder, who told TheLira that even though the call made them feel uncomfortable, they had yielded to its request.

Bank Asya, a lender with ties to the Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, has been subject to severe pressure from the government since a corruption investigation went public on Dec. 17.

The aim of the government seems to be to create panic among depositors of the bank and to frighten them so that they will rush to withdraw their money, throwing the bank into a liquidity crisis that would eventually justify the nationalization of the bank, market analysts have commented.

Zaman business editor and columnist Turhan Bozkurt wrote on Friday that the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) needs to explain how those people who allegedly forced companies to withdraw funds from their Bank Asya accounts obtained the list of the working with the bank. “The name of the bank is not important; what is important is how anyone can have such easy access to private bank account data. This is a clear violation of the law,” he wrote.

One critical detail is that media reports targeting Bank Asya have said the BDDK provided them with exclusive bank data, which is a violation of the law that requires the watchdog to keep such data a secret. The BDDK has not responded to these reports. Observers have called on BDDK head Mukim Öztekin to step down because the watchdog's reputation as an independent institution has become highly questionable since these recent developments.

It was reported last year that in the midst of the Gezi park protests, the BDDK and other institutions launched investigations into the bank accounts of various protesters who were said to have made suspicious transactions.

Published on Today's Zaman, 05 September 2014, Friday

Related Articles