October 16, 2014

German report: Gov't Bank Asya smear campaign is revenge

A recent report released by a foundation close to Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) emphasizes that the government targeted Bank Asya and subjected it to a smear campaign.

The Turkey branch of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, known for its close ties to the SPD -- which was the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) strongest supporter during the EU reform process -- harshly criticized the AK Party for its attacks on the lender, which is affiliated with the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen-inspired Hizmet Movement.

“After the Dec. 17 corruption and bribery operations the AK Party government targeted the Gülen movement-affiliated Bank Asya in its first act of revenge. After firms close to the government were instructed to remove their deposits from the bank, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) suspended share sales negotiations between Bank Asya and Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB). Numerous explanations were made saying that the bank's financial situation was dire. The bank was also subject to discrimination in [Turkey's stock exchange] Borsa İstanbul,” said the report.

The report stated that Bank Asya filed numerous criminal complaints in response to the various attacks waged against it by the government. It underlined that the most concerned party throughout the affair was the Turkish business world, which expressed its fears that such intimidation tactics may scare off international investors.

Meanwhile, Bank Asya shareholders filed their first lawsuit against a smear campaign in Turkish media on Wednesday. Lawyer Ergün Ozkan said on Wednesday that a group of shareholders of Bank Asya filed lawsuits against the government media including Turkish dailies Yeni Şafak, Yeni Akit and the Turkuvaz Gazete which owns daily Sabah among others. The shareholders accuse the dailies of involvement in a large-scale smear campaign against Bank Asya, Özkan said. The lawyer said separate shareholders prepared to file individual complaints at the Turkish Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Published on Today's Zaman, 16 October 2014, Thursday