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Turkey seizes control of Bank Asya

4 February 2015 11:00

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Turkey’s banking regulator has seized control of Bank Asya, which is linked to anti-government cleric Fethullah Gulen, over a lack of transparency.

Following an order by Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) on Tuesday, the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund seized 63 percent of Bank Asya, and appointed a new chief executive officer and board of directors to the bank.

In a statement on its website, the BDDK said the order was issued “because the institution has not presented a partnership structure that is transparent and open enough to allow for effective regulation.”

Founded by Gulen supporters in 1996, the bank has come under pressure from regulatory restrictions, withdrawals by state-run firms, and attacks from pro-government media, causing it to lose 301 million liras (USD 133 million) in the third quarter of 2014.

The bank’s seizure is considered as the latest crackdown against Gulen’s powerful Hizmet (Service) movement which was an important supporter of the country’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) when it came to power 11 years ago.

The alliance, however, shattered after dozens of political and business allies of the then prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were arrested in police raids over a graft probe involving the premier’s government in December 2013.

Erdogan, Turkey’s current president, has accused Gulen of using his influence in the country’s police and judiciary to prompt the corruption probe to bring down his government. The cleric has, however, denied the allegations.

Erdogan has also dismissed hundreds of police and prosecutors believed to be linked to the cleric. Turkish authorities have arrested dozens of Gulen’s supporters in recent months.

Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999.

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