Turkish gov’t seeks up to 22.5 years in jail for Bank Asya managers on terror charges

The former general manager and administrators of the now-closed Islamic lender Bank Asya have been indicted by the Turkish government on terror charges and face jail sentences of up to 22.5 years, the Tr724 news website reported on Tuesday.

The Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) had taken over management of Bank Asya and took control of 63 percent of its privileged shares, enough to name the board, in February 2015. New board members, a general manager and deputy general managers were immediately appointed.

In the aftermath of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the government closed down Bank Asya on the grounds that it was linked to the Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding the putsch. The movement denies any involvement in the failed coup.

The indictment, drafted by the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office, seeks a jail sentence of between 15 and 22.5 years for Abdullah Çelik, who served as the bank’s general manager between 2011-2013, and former deputy general manager Hakan Fatih Büyükadalı on charges of “being a leader of a terrorist organization,” while 31 others who worked as managers in different departments of the bank face jail sentences of between 7.5 and 15 years on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization.”

The indictment has been accepted by the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court.

Before the government seizure Bank Asya was one of three banks with the highest liquidity in Turkey. The government took over the bank on Feb. 4, 2015, contrary to strict statutory banking regulations against such a drastic move.

Bank Asya’s banking license was cancelled on July 22, 2016 — seven days after the coup attempt — by Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK). The banking watchdog had ruled for a complete takeover of all shares of the Islamic lender by the TMSF in May 2015.

The bank, which had 210 branches, 5,000 employees and around 1.5 million clients, was founded on Oct. 24, 1996 upon formal approval from regulators. It operated under the supervision of independent regulatory bodies in Turkey that were responsible for overseeing the banking sector. It was a popular bank.

In the wake of the coup attempt in July 2016 having an account at Bank Asya was presented by prosecutors as evidence of membership in a so-called “terrorist organization.” (turkishminute.com)

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