State-run Ziraat sees no political pressure: General manager
Hülya Güler ISTANBULZiraat Bank, the largest state bank in Turkey, is not under any political pressure, contrary to reports, General Manager Hüseyin Aydın has told daily Hürriyet.
Aydın said Ziraat did not provide credit upon the government’s request, denying such claims in the media.
“I would not like to be unjust to the boss of any bank, but I am a general manager and I am probably the one who has seen the least pressure,” he said.
Aydın previously headed Halkbank, another state lender, before moving to Ziraat in 2011.
“I would like to say with confidence that neither myself, nor my teams, see any political pressure. We sincerely do not face a situation that tells us to grant credit to this person or that person,” he said, adding that the banking watchdog BDDK would detect any loans to someone with low credibility.
International finance organizations would also notice any wrong credit, as the bank receives international syndicated loans, he said.
Ziraat has taken efforts to finance large projects, such as the İzmir-Istanbul highway, which includes the largest bridge in Turkey, a third airport in Istanbul that is also projected to be the largest, and a third bridge over the Bosphorus Strait.
Aydın said other banks have taken part in these projects, which proves that no pressure was in action.
“The share of project financing in our overall credits stands at 8 percent, which is approximately 11 billion Turkish Liras,” he said.
He also denied claims that the bank was providing easy loans for businesspeople close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“The fact that businesspeople are close to a party or the government happens in every period,” he said. “They were close to former governments, too.”
The general manager said about a recent U.S. Fed inspection on the bank’s New York branch was limited to technical requirements and halting the individual banking operations of eight customers was the bank’s own choice.
Ziraat was ready for a public offering, in the case that shareholders make such a demand.