Baseless allegations damage publicly traded firms


Date posted: February 18, 2014

İSTANBUL

Turkish Association of Capital Market Intermediary Institution (TSPAKB) Chairman Atilla Köksal said on Monday that baseless news stories circulating in the Turkish media about companies, banks and intermediary institutions are harming those institutions.

Speaking in a panel organized jointly by TSPAKB and the Economy Correspondents’ Association (EMD) in İstanbul, Köksal added that baseless news also spreads in social media with a snowball effect and creates damaging effects on capital market.

Previously, Interior Minister Efkan Ala claimed on a state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) TV program, without naming names, that he had solid evidence that a bank had bought up dollars from the market a few days before police raids on a Dec. 17 corruption and bribery investigation, and made a profit of over $2 billion when the price of the dollar hiked after the inquest.

Ala’s remarks were widely interpreted as a reference to Bank Asya, a participation bank affiliated with the Hizmet movement, which is inspired by respected Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has tried to scapegoat the Hizmet movement via conspiracy theories to evade attention stemming from the corruption allegations. A number of news stories broke soon after Ala’s claims, reporting that Bank Asya’s accounts were being scrutinized for misconduct.

Habertürk daily columnist Abdurrahman Yıldırım addressed in the panel that a number of media reports have given the impression that Bank Asya was sinking. “The Capital Markets Board’s [SPK] remaining silent [on baseless allegations] renders the SPK’s code of ethics meaningless,” he said.

In the reports, the bank had to disclose a list of all its currency transactions prior to Dec. 17 to disprove the misconduct claims; central bank figures later proved that the assertion was paramount to libel, revealing that no bank had procured extraordinary amounts of greenbacks from the market.

Even in this atmosphere, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) and the SPK opted to remain silent, allowing government supporters to discredit the bank up until Jan. 10, when the bank finally rescued itself from the financial strain it had been pushed into since the massive cash withdrawals.

Meanwhile, TSPAKB Deputy Secretary-General Osman İlker stressed in his panel presentations that giving wrong information, spreading rumors, reporting and commenting inaccurately, and publishing this to affect investment decisions would be considered market fraud.

Bank Asya would have needed to buy up at least $30 billion from the markets, which is impossible given both the market conditions and the bank’s total assets as of the third quarter of 2013, which were at only TL 28 billion ($12.5 billion).

Despite long-delayed warnings from capital market representatives, the pro-government Sabah daily reported on Tuesday that 192,000 new accounts have opened in Bank Asya as a result of the efforts of businesspeople affiliated with the Hizmet movement to rescue the bank from sinking. The daily also speculated that the bank has made it difficult for people to close their bank accounts.

Though a number of media outlets have circulated stories about a government-instigated plan to sink Bank Asya with massive cash withdrawals as a form of vengeance against the Hizmet movement, government officials have not refuted the claim.

Source: Todays Zaman , February 18, 2014


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