June 7, 2015

Bank Asya’s owners form team to end state-fund seizure

A 20-person team consisting of lawyers, bankers and academicians are set to fight the legal battle to cancel the Turkish state-fund’s controversial May 29th seizure of Bank Asya.

Lawyer Süleyman Taşbaş representing Bank Asya’s shareholders and his team have penned a 300-page case file which may end up reaching over 60,000 pages once completed. The file outlines the political measures, legal flaws in the orders by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) and the subsequent take-over of the bank by the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). The lawsuit petition alone was recorded at 52 pages.

Bank Asya had long been subject to political attacks prior to the May 29th seizure and the preceding February 3rd management overhaul. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had even stated that the bank “had already failed” despite the fact that the publicly traded Islamic lender had one of the best capital adequacy ratios of the sector. Defamatory rumors published by pro-government press over the past year and a half have been challenged, yet remain unpunished.

Speaking to Bugün daily, Taşbaş explains how last week alone 15 separate criminal complaints were filed over deliberate lies and false rumors spread regarding the bank by the pro-government press. The lawyer notes that such reports harbor intent to manipulate public perception and defame the bank and constitute discrimination.

Experts note that the May 29th seizure by the TMSF of the publicly-traded Bank Asya might have no legal grounds whatsoever, as best demonstrated by the bank’s performance and financials.

The seizure had come about months after the February 3rd takeover of the bank’s management on the grounds that it had disclosed insufficient information pertaining to its founding shareholders. Even though the bank had submitted documentation corresponding to 53 percent of the shares, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency had only processed 37 percent, citing this as a reason for the overhaul. Even though more than 90 percent of the documents have since been completed and submitted, management still has not been handed back.

Financial markets experts note that the measures against Bank Asya are politically motivated and baseless. They further warn that such actions by regulators will significantly harm investor confidence in Turkey’s financial markets.

Published on BGNNews, 7 June 2015, Sunday