May 31, 2015

Reactions to Bank Asya seizure from all corners of Turkish politics

Friday’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) decision to seize Bank Asya drew strong reactions from all political factions, unanimous in their criticism that the decision was an unlawful move that will negatively affect the economy.

The BDDK seized the country’s largest Islamic lender Bank Asya on Friday evening as its latest step in a long, unlawful government-orchestrated campaign targeting the bank.

Calling the Bank Asya decision an arbitrary and unlawful act of oppression, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Bülent Tezcan pointed out that foreign capital will now fear entering the Turkish market. “With Bank Asya’s seizure by the BDDK, there is no longer any guarantee of law, capital or entrepreneurship in Turkey. The Turkish market will be negatively affected by this,” said Tezcan.

Felicity Party (SP) leader Mustafa Kamalak also harshly criticized the BDDK decision to take over Bank Asya. “Throughout history those who violated the law eventually fade away off the face of the earth,” Kamalak said in reaction to the systematic government-orchestrated campaign aimed at undermining the bank.

“There is no longer any law in Turkey,” said CHP Konya deputy Atilla Kart. Stating that the seizure decision was a politically-motivated smear campaign attempting to draw attention away from the government’s other woes in the lead up to the election, “It has made us question the security of the ballot boxes.”

CHP Adana deputy Faruk Loğoğlu called the Bank Asya seizure political, “The ruling government wants all opposition to be cowed. Bank Asya was sacrificed by the ruling government, the decision is completely political.”

Erhan Usta, opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) candidate for the upcoming election also called the seizure of Bank Asya unlawful, “In this situation both local and international enterprise will not invest money in the country.”

Pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples' Party (HDP) Diyarbakır deputy Altan Tan said that it cannot be considered legitimate in any way shape or form. “Everyone is aware that the seizure is political, there was already an attempt to seize the bank before. Such things can only happen in a dictatorship. This is the sign of a dictatorship, if it continues then entrepreneurs will flee the country,” Tan said.

MHP Antalya deputy Mehmet Günal called the move, just over a week ahead of a parliamentary election, a political decision. “The BDDK made a political decision just a week before the election. It’s an attempt to cover up the 17/25 December corruption probes against the government. Turkey no longer has a rule of law,” Günal added.

The BDDK’s decision to seize Bank Asya came after months of a systematic government-orchestrated campaign aimed at undermining the bank. Bank Asya has seen depositors including state-owned firms and institutions withdraw funds this year, with the government canceling tax collection and social security payment contracts in August.

Pro-government media carried almost daily reports on Bank Asya's woes earlier last year, portraying it as a failing bank, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has on several occasions expressed defamatory remarks about the bank, accusing it of having bad financials and even once claiming that the bank was already sunk.

The BDDK announced its decision late on Friday while reports of seizure appeared in pro-government outlets hours before the BDDK announcement. Meanwhile government whistleblower and Twitter phenomenon Fuat Avni had also tweeted earlier in the day that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked the banking watchdog to seize long-oppressed Bank Asya. The whistleblower said Erdoğan met with the board members of the BDDK at 3.00 p.m. and ordered newly appointed chair of the watchdog to seize Bank Asya in a bid to consolidate the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) votes ahead of a parliamentary election that is slated for June 7.

The move followed an earlier decision to take management control of the bank citing its failure to meet legal criteria. The BDDK ruled on Feb. 3 that management control of 63 percent of the privileged shares held by A-type shareholders be handed over to the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). The agency claimed that some privileged shareholders in Bank Asya had failed to submit certain documents to the agency within one-and-a-half months, including documents regarding criminal records, audited financial records, tax records of the past five years, property records and accounts in other banks. The shareholders were asked to provide the documents for themselves and for any corporate holdings in which they had ownership. The short time allowed by the agency for the submission of the documents, however, stirred reactions from shareholders.

Since the management takeover in February, 91 percent of the documents the BDDK requested from the 183 partners were submitted as of April 12th.

Published on BGNNews, 31 May 2015, Sunday