October 22, 2014

Bank Asya shares kept closed despite SPK warning

The Capital Markets Board (SPK) has warned the Borsa İstanbul (BİST) to act in line with the law with regard to the BİST's decision on Aug. 14 to ban Bank Asya's shares from trading, local media reported on Wednesday.

BİST's administration, however, did not heed the notice from the SPK and prevented the stock of Turkey's largest Islamic lender from being traded on the market between Aug. 14 and Sept. 15. The daily Bugün ran a story in its Oct. 16 edition reporting an application by BİST Chairman İbrahim Turhan to SPK, which demanded that BİST decisions on Bank Asya shares be exempted from relevant rules as stated in the SPK's laws. Dated Sept. 15, this application informed the SPK that the ban on the Bank Asya shares would continue and that the shares would not be allowed to be traded either in BİST or anywhere else.

According to local media reports, BİST faxed a petition to the SPK on Aug. 14 asking for official approval for their decision to ban the Bank Asya shares from trading. Learning that BİST would make its decision on the matter on the same day, SPK responded that day to BİST to remind its administration of resolution number 35/1059 dated July 19, 2002 and of the SPK board's decision number 20/429 dated on April 11, 2003, saying that any decision must be in accordance with these two regulations. The particular resolution and board decision state that any bank shares in the BİST have to be opened for trade on the sixth day following their ban. BİST's officially stated reason for the closure of the bank's shares was the “ambiguities encircling the partnership structure of the bank,” but the bank rejected any uncertainty with regard to this. The partnership structure was the same on Sept. 15, the day when trade resumed, as the structure on Aug. 14 when it was banned. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has waged a dirty war against Bank Asya for its affiliations with the Hizmet movement, which has become Erdoğan's archenemy after two graft investigations, which were made public on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 last year, implicating some members of the government of the time as well as their children, even including Erdoğan's son Bilal. Erdoğan, who was the prime minister then, claimed the probes were coup attempts and accused Hizmet of being a proxy of international power groups that want his government toppled. Hizmet's members deny Erdoğan's slurs. The local media also asserted that the investors holding Bank Asya shares may file lawsuits against the BİST administration to compensate them for their losses they have incurred as a result of keeping Bank Asya shares arbitrarily barred from trade because of political motives.

Published on Today's Zaman, 22 October 2014, Wednesday