February 11, 2015

Pro-gov't firms scrutinized for delaying Bank Asya docs

Some of the Turkish firms that have assets in Turkey's Bank Asya may have avoided producing some documents required by the banking watchdog on time, opening the way for last week's intervention in the bank's board, observers speculated on Wednesday.

These privileged shareholders in Bank Asya are also known for having close ties to the ruling party, which is accused of engineering a takeover of the Islamic lender's board on a botched legal pretext.

Turkey's banking watchdog, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), handed management control of 63 percent of the privileged shares of Bank Asya over to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) on Tuesday, citing a lack of certain key documents. Bank Asya denied these claims, arguing it was not given enough time to file the required documents.

Market experts said last week that Article 18 of the Banking Law, which Tuesday night's operation against Bank Asya was based on, does not allow for authorities to change the management of a bank.

On Wednesday, Turkish market experts speculated on Twitter that two pro-government companies intentionally delayed sending the required documents to the watchdog, setting the stage for the board takeover. One of the companies is based in Gaziantep and another is an İstanbul-based company. The debates on Twitter centered on these two firms, which are criticized for delaying the delivery of documents that already existed in their company archive.

The bank earlier last week took the legally flawed takeover to court.

Today's Zaman is not disclosing the names of these firms since a legal procedure regarding the takeover is underway. There was no immediate comment from the companies regarding the missing documents on Wednesday.

The executive chairman of Turkey's largest Islamic lender, Ahmet Beyaz -- who has been removed from his position -- said last Friday that early in December the watchdog requested around 20 different documents from each of the 185 A-type shareholders, including criminal records, audited financial records, tax records for five years, property records and accounts with other banks for both individuals and corporate entities. All of these documents, however, were to be delivered to the BDDK within one month. Underlying that a single month was not enough time to collect all of these documents, Beyaz said the bank had on several occasions requested a deadline extension on behalf of the shareholders but the watchdog refused all applications and raided the bank when only 37 percent of shareholders had prepared the requested documents.

Pensioners deposit salaries with Bank Asya

In a show of solidarity with Turkey's largest Islamic lender Bank Asya, a group of Turkish pensioners in Kırıkkale province deposited their salaries with the bank's branch on Tuesday.

The pensioners went to the Bank Asya branch following reports that the authorities would force them to receive pension salaries from the state-run Ziraat Bankası instead of Bank Asya. “We are here to support a bank that we believe is being subjected to an illegal operation. We will stand against this atrocity,” 85-year-old Nusrettin Yetik told the reporters on Tuesday.

“I am not here to take my salary but to deposit it with my bank. I am ready to put even more cash in my Bank Asya account and encourage my friends to do so,” another pensioner, 70-year-old Osman Çiftçi, said.

Since last week, tens of thousands of old and new customers opened bank accounts with Bank Asya or made deposits into their accounts in many provinces, including İzmir, Ankara, Kastamonu, Amasya, Isparta, Afyonkarahisar, Mardin and Manisa in response to the intervention in the board.

Bank Asya is one of the three strongest banks in Turkey, with a capital adequacy ratio of about 20 percent. The average ratio of banks in Turkey is around 14-15 percent.

Published on Cihan, 11 February 2015, Wednesday