Bank Asya slams ‘smear campaign’ to save reputation

Bank Asya slams ‘smear campaign’ to save reputation

Bank Asya slams ‘smear campaign’ to save reputation

Bank Asya logo is seen at a branch in Ankara August 12, 2014. REUTERS Photo

Islamic lender Bank Asya, who has been shaken by a series of blows to its financial strength, released a statement in local newspapers to condemn the media reports it accused of conducting a “systematic smear campaign” against the lender.

“A number of reputation-damaging, false publications regarding our bank, the shares of which are open to the public, have been circulating through written, visual and social media,” the lender said in the statement, citing several articles in the Turkish Banking and Capital Markets laws that calls “spreading groundless news about a lender” illegal.

“The systematic campaign to discredit [our reputation] that targets our bank’s reputation and has been continuing daily, has reached a point that damages the Turkish banking system, capital markets and our country’s international reputation,” the statement further read.

The lender, whose founders are known to be sympathizers of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, has found itself at the center of a political feud between the government and Gülen supporters since the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption operation that kindled the row.

Pro-government newspapers particularly ramped up the negative-toned reports about the lender over the past few months.

“The reason behind our not responding to each fabricated piece and slander one-by-one is our belief in our fight to seek rights within legal rules,” the lender said.

Bank Asya also said it filed 286 legal complaints and applied for the denial of published reports 93 times.

“We fully believe in the legal state. Justice will be done in line with the cited laws,” the lender stressed at the end of the statement.

Bank Asya has been going through a whirlwind year of deposit withdrawals, acquisition talks and state contract annulments.

On Aug. 21, State-run lender Ziraat Bank announced it had ended unofficial acquisition talks with Bank Asya, citing inconsistency with its priorities.

The government also cancelled tax collection and social security contracts with Bank Asya earlier this month, seen by observers as a move to wind down the lender. However, Bank Asya said those actions would not have a significant impact on its activities.

Adding to headaches, Turkey’s main stock exchange, Borsa Istanbul, suspended trading Bank Asya’s shares on Aug. “until uncertainty regarding its ownership is resolved.”

The lender had also attempted earlier this year to form a partnership with Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), but that initiative also ended with failure, as on Aug. 8 it announced annulling talks with the QIB.