August 19, 2015

BDDK head fails to explain Bank Asya seizure

The president of the banking watchdog has failed to justify the protracted state control over Bank Asya, the Islamic lender which was seized on May 29 allegedly due to insufficient transparency.

Speaking to the state-run Anadolu news agency on Tuesday, Mehmet Ali Akben, the chairman of the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), said Bank Asya shareholders failed to submit certain identification documents to the regulator in a bid to disperse claims that the decision was made for political purposes.

“These operations are maintained within the limits of the law. Regardless of the bank, the same procedure would be followed for all in the same conditions. We say ‘the documents have not been completed yet.' Yes, it is not complete yet. We have not mentioned any [specific] ratio. We [just] say the documents were not completed,” Akben said.

Yet lawyers of the shareholders make it public on every occasion that as many as 92 percent of the shareholders have submitted documents to the watchdog ever since the BDDK first asked the bank to do so. It was enough for the BDDK to relinquish control when at least 50 percent of the shareholders delivered documents to the regulator, lawyers argue.

After an interim board administered the bank for three months, the BDDK transferred control of the lender to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) in late May, citing low transparency in the ownership structure. Prior to the assignment of an interim board, the BDDK unexpectedly asked Asya shareholders about their identification documents; however, only 37 percent of the shareholders managed to send them to the BDDK, with others asking for an extension of the due date.

Bank Asya was founded in 1996 by sympathizers of the faith-based Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, which the government sees as the mastermind behind investigations into massive corruption that became public in late 2013.

Published on Today's Zaman, 19 August 2015, Wednesday