12 Accused Turkish banks deny claims

12 Accused Turkish banks deny claims

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
12 Accused Turkish banks deny claims

The Turkish Competition Board is investigating of Turkish banks. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

A dozen of Turkey’s largest banks have claimed they are the backbone of the Turkish economy, meaning that their fall would shake the economy in general, challenging the Competition Board within the investigation into allegations of the banks’ anti-competitive behavior.

“A disproportionate decision taken out of the investigation would damage economic stability, impair the stock exchange market and obstruct the foreign loans Turkish banks would like to obtain,” Ali Cihangir Topkar, a representative of Akbank, said in his message to the Board.

Turkey’s Competition Board said last November it had launched an investigation into complaints for alleged collusion in setting loan rates against the 12 Turkish banks Akbank, Denizbank, Finansbank, HSBC, ING, TEB, Garanti, Halk Bank, Isbank, Vakifbank, Yapi Kredi and state-owned Ziraat Bank.

Most of the bank representatives justified their cases by arguing their banks’ position and ranking in the market, claiming a high-ranking bank wouldn’t jeopardize its already beneficial position to form an illegal cartel.

The Turkish branch of British bank HSBC said during its defense that this would only be a mistake of lower-ranking employees, not the responsibility of the whole institution.Meanwhile, none of the other banks have admitted any fraud and claim the evidence is clearly not sufficient.

The banks could face a maximum fine of up to 10 percent of total revenue, although the regulator has never before imposed the maximum punishment, as the sector players expect the amount to be the minimum in this case.

The banks have already presented their written defenses and their two-day verbal defense sessions started yesterday will continue today. The banks present their case alphabetically, as six of them did yesterday, and the remaining ones will be heard today.