February 4, 2015

General manager says Bank Asya to continue operations, vows legal fight

Bank Asya General Manager Ahmet Beyaz, who was among nine members of the bank's executive board removed by state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) as part of a political operation targeting the institution, has said the bank will take legal action against the TMSF move, which he also says will not affect the bank's operations.

Speaking live on Samanyolu television about Tuesday's decision by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) to order the TMSF to take control of Bank Asya's board, Beyaz said the bank has been subjected to a “lynch campaign” and unlawful actions for a year, with the latest example being the TMSF action.

Beyaz said TMSF officials arrived at the bank's headquarters on Tuesday night with a large group of police officers, which he said was a move to intimidate people and create and impression that the bank is engaged in wrongdoings. “There is nothing illegal here [at the bank]. Here is a bank, everything is recorded,” he said.

He underlined that the bank was not “seized,” as claimed by pro-government media outlets, because the bank has neither liquidity nor capital problems. “None of our shareholders' stocks were seized. The TMSF will just use the executive rights of some shareholders [board members] on their behalf. The TMSF also removed nine board members, including me, and appointed new members,” he said.

Stressing that the TMSF action is problematic in legal terms, Beyaz said Bank Asya shareholders will file legal cases against BDDK, the Capital Markets Board (SPK) and media outlets running false reports on Bank Asya. “Those who are involved in this unlawfulness will pay the price for this. We believe that these cases will be concluded under a democratic state of law,” he added.

Beyaz thanked the Bank Asya customers who lent support to the bank in the face of intimidation efforts by the government and told them not to be concerned over the latest TMSF action.
“With God's permission, nothing will happen to Bank Asya as long as our customers continue to stand by us. We believe that,” he added.

Bank Asya, founded by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen sympathizers, saw depositors including state-owned firms and institutions withdraw funds last year in what it described as a systematic campaign to undermine it.

Pro-government newspapers carried almost daily reports on Bank Asya's woes earlier last year, portraying it as a failing bank being propped up by members of the Gülen movement.

The government canceled tax collection and social security payment contracts with Bank Asya in August.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has on several occasions expressed defamatory remarks about the bank, accusing it of failing to manage its funds and even once claiming that the bank has already sunk.

Having one of the best capital adequacy rates in the sector, Bank Asya has rejected such assertions. Turkey considers it a crime to defame a bank in a way that may shake its prestige or cause a loss of confidence in it.

Published on Today's Zaman, 04 February 2015, Wednesday