April 9, 2015

‘Bank Asya is strong, nation will suffer if gov't sinks it'

Former central bank governor Durmuş Yılmaz, who is running for Parliament in the June 7 general election on the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) ticket, has criticized the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government over its efforts to sink Bank Asya, claiming that the bank is strong and that it will be the nation that suffers most if the bank is destroyed.

Speaking to Turkish immigrants in Amsterdam, Yılmaz said the deposit structure of Bank Asya is very strong, adding that a blow dealt to the bank will affect the Turkish economy more than the bank's shareholders.

Earlier this year, Turkey's banking watchdog, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), handed management control of 63 percent of the privileged shares of Bank Asya over to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), citing a lack of certain key documents. Bank Asya management and shareholders, however, deny the existence of any transparency flaws, saying the decision was a government-orchestrated bid to sink the lender.

The intervention in Bank Asya came on the heels of an alleged personal effort by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to scuttle the bank by promoting the publication of defamatory news about the bank in pro-government media, and by encouraging separate regulatory restrictions. Erdoğan has, on several occasions, made defamatory remarks about the bank, accusing it of failing to manage its funds, and even once claiming that it had gone bankrupt.

Bank Asya is affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Erdoğan has launched a battle against the movement, and against Gülen-affiliated organizations, following a corruption probe that became public on Dec.17, 2013, in which senior members of his government were implicated.

Yılmaz said the public authority would have the duty of taking necessary action if Bank Asya had been involved in any wrongdoing; however, he said no clear or concrete mistakes, allegedly committed by the bank, have been revealed so far.

“It looks like the bank is very strong. So you could ask what the problem is. To me, it seems that [what happened to Bank Asya] is a result of ours not being a principle-based society but a situation-based society. In brief, if there is a mistake, it should definitely have been corrected. But the issue should not be handled with political motivations. I believe such an attitude damages the system,” Yılmaz said.

The former central bank governor, who was selected as the world's best central bank governor by Euromoney magazine in 2009, also talked about the general state of the Turkish economy, saying that he thinks unemployment will continue to increase, and that sustaining current welfare will become more difficult.

Failing to grow will be the biggest problem for the Turkish economy in the near future, according to Yılmaz, who suggested that structural measures be taken in order to ensure a faster growth rate than the current 3 to 3.5 percent.

Yılmaz also said the government should address the problems of unemployment and declining welfare in the country, and that these problems will not be determined by the monetary policies of the central bank.

Published on Cihan, 09 April 2015, Thursday