March 25, 2015

Bank Asya shareholders lodge complaint against Ernst & Young Turkey

Bank Asya shareholders have lodged a complaint with the global headquarters of independent auditing firm Ernst & Young, accusing the Turkish branch of the company of avoiding commenting on improper financial statements drawn up by the bank's interim board.

The shareholders argue that Ernst & Young Turkey, which had expressed a positive opinion when it had monitored the balance sheet of the bank and its affiliates in the previous two years, had failed to evaluate the bank's balance sheet in March that is alleged to be flawed.

The lawyer representing the shareholders, Sandra Campbell, said on Tuesday, “Our request to the global headquarters of EY in London is to fix the mistakes that EY Turkey has made and to release a statement regarding issue accordingly.”

Turkey's largest Islamic lender, Bank Asya, whose management was taken over by regulators in February, posted earlier this month a net loss of TL 877 million ($336 million) for 2014 on shrinking loans and deposits. In a written statement right after, Bank Asya shareholders said the financial results had been released without bearing the signatures of the bank's board members or CEO, arguing, “This breaches the related law regulating the Turkish banking industry and is a first in Turkish history.”

Underlining that the silence of EY Turkey over the balance sheet released by the interim board contributes to the efforts aimed at defaming the bank's image and damages the interest of shareholders, Bank Asya CEO Ahmet Beyaz said they would seek the rights of shareholders in court both in Turkey and the UK.

The management rights of publicly traded Bank Asya's privileged shareholders, who have the right to nominate board members, were controversially taken over by the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) in February in yet another example of oppressive practices engineered by the government on dissenting voices and institutions.

The shareholders of Bank Asya are known for their ties to the faith-based Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement and publicly supported by the country's largest daily, Zaman.

Published on Today's Zaman, 25 March 2015, Wednesday