September 16, 2014

Bank Asya assures it fulfills obligations despite pressure

Private lender Bank Asya said on Tuesday that it will continue to fulfill its legal obligations to its depositors and shareholders despite a ruthless campaign against it aimed at undermining depositor confidence in the institution.

“As is publicly known, statements that are contrary to facts and that clearly constitute a crime have been made over the past 10 months to frighten our depositors,” a statement from Bank Asya said.

“Despite all these attacks, our bank has fulfilled all its obligations, without causing any inconvenience to any depositor or client. ... Our bank has paid withdrawals fully and without any delay and it will continue to do so,” the statement said. “There has not been a single depositor who has been unable to withdraw their money from our bank.”

Bank Asya is affiliated with Turkey's largest faith-based movement, Hizmet, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused of plotting against him following two separate corruption probes implicating him and his family last December. Since his victory in the presidential election in August, Erdoğan has repeatedly asserted that the campaign against Hizmet would intensify. A series of speculative reports claiming troubles for the bank have emerged in the pro-government media, prompting Bank Asya to declare it will pursue lawsuits.

Last month, the government canceled tax collection and social security contracts with Bank Asya, a move seen by observers as an attempt to weaken the lender. However, Bank Asya said those actions would not have a significant impact on its activities.

In remarks published on Tuesday, Erdoğan again appeared to step up his campaign against the private lender, warning the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) that it will be held “responsible” if it fails to act against Bank Asya.

“People must be able to withdraw their deposits whenever they want. If they can't, that means there is a serious problem with the capital adequacy ratio [CAR]. There are steps [here] that the BDDK should take,” journalists quoted him as saying while he was on his way back from a trip to Qatar on Monday. “The BDDK should make up its mind and take necessary steps. Otherwise, it will be held responsible.”

Published on Today's Zaman, 16 September 2014, Tuesday