February 4, 2015

US urges Turkey to uphold rule of law in Bank Asya case

The United State has urged the Turkish government to uphold the rule of law in dealing with Turkey's biggest Islamic lender Bank Asya, whose management was taken over by a state insurance fund on Tuesday.

The Turkish government has been waging a campaign to force Bank Asya out of business due to its ties with the Gülen movement. Throughout last year, the government took a variety of strikes at the Islamic lender, and at one point President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed that the bank had “already sunk.”

According to the Turkish banking law, it is a crime to defame a bank in a way that may shake its prestige or cause a loss of confidence in it.

A US State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, highlighted the importance of monitoring head corporate financial activity in accordance with international legal standards, including full respect for due process and equal treatment under the law.

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

On Tuesday, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) ordered state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) to take control of 63 percent of the bank's stocks and appointed a new board of directors. The banking watchdog claimed that the bank "violated the conditions that it should maintain transparent with an open partnership structure and organizational scheme."

The operation appears to be part of the government-orchestrated crackdown on institutions affiliated with the Gülen movement

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.

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