Hurriyet Daily News

5,000 academics alleged of depositing cash in Bank Asya on Gülen’s demand

A Turkish court indictment ruled that some 5,000 academics have deposited cash in Bank Asya after an order from U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. After the July 2016 coup attempt Bank Asya was seized by the state over its links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). The prosecutor of the case decided 15 years in prison for a total of 83 academics, of whom 21 are currently arrested. Some 33 of the suspects were alleged users of ByLock, an encrypted smartphone app that came to prominence after it revealed Gülenists used it to plan the coup. According to the indictment, the Gülen movement sent messages to senior members of the group on social media, ordering them to deposit cash in Bank Asya.

#Turkey aims to triple market share of Islamic finance

Turkey is committed to tripling the market share of Islamic finance, bringing it up to 15 percent by 2023. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said the Islamic finance market had been growing swiftly in Turkey and that the government aimed to further boost the sector. Simsek also pointed out the slowdown in global trade, saying there was a discontent against globalism after the recent global crisis. He urged countries to make immediate reforms, recalling the three main themes of the 2015 G-20 summit in Turkey, which were comprehensiveness, implementation and investment. The minister noted the income inequality in the world, saying 62 people’s wealth was equal to 3.62 billion people. He said Islamic finance could play a positive role in addressing this problem.

State fund probes 1.6 mln Bank Asya accounts for Gülen links

Turkey’s Saving Deposits Insurance Fund (TMSF) has probed more than 1.6 mn bank accounts because a number of public institutions wanted to learn whether any of their employees had an account with Bank Asya. The bank was linked to the controversial Gülen movement, which was believed to be the mastermind behind the failed July 15 coup attempt. In line with these probes, some 700,000 people have been searched since the end of 2013. When suspending public officials after the failed coup attempt, one of the main criteria under consideration was whether they were a Bank Asya customer and if they had made financially suspicious banking transactions. Turkish regulators canceled the banking license of Islamic lender Bank Asya on July 24.

Bank Asya’s banking license cancelled over Gülen links

Turkish regulators have cancelled the banking license of Islamic lender Bank Asya. The Turkish Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency’s decision (BDDK) came after the Turkish Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) temporarily suspended Bank Asya’s banking operations on July 18. According to the TMSF the sale of the bank did not attract any bids on July 15. The tender was for the sale of a minimum 183.6 million A group shares, amounting to 51% of the bank. Bank Asya is affiliated with Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish authorities accuse of heading a clandestine 'parallel state' to undermine the Turkish government.

Islamic Development Bank #meeting in Jakarta

On May 15 representatives of 56 muslim countries came together at the 41st IDB annual meeting in Jakarta. In 2015, the IDB Group recorded approvals worth $1.83 bn, representing 21% of the total since the bank’s inception. In Turkey Islamic banking comprises 5% of the total banking system, but the government aims to increase this figure to 15% by 2023. IDB's president, Ahmad Mohamed Ali, said the bank also fully supported Turkey’s plans to develop Istanbul as an international financial center.

Investment banking arm of Qatar’s Barwa scours Turkey for deals

The First Investor (TFI), the investment banking arm of Qatar’s Barwa Bank, is looking for investments in Turkey, in sectors ranging from real estate to food, its acting chief executive Yousef Al Obaidan said. TFI has not specified a budget for Turkey, although its existing holdings in the Gulf region average around $100-$150 million per investment, Al Obaidan said. Individual investments in Turkey could exceed that, he said. The bank, which is also involved in private equity and asset management, is particularly interested in Turkey’s real estate, healthcare, education and food and beverage industries, Al Obaidan said. TFI is already active in Turkey, where Kiler, a REIT, mandated it in December for the sale of the Istanbul Sapphire shopping center and residence.

Turkey’s Ziraat Islamic unit applies for 1.5 bln lira sukuk

The Islamic lending arm of Turkey’s state-run Ziraat Bank has applied to sell 1.5 billion lira ($501.9 million) worth of Islamic bonds, according to Turkey’s Capital Markets Board (SPK). The sale would be the first by a state-run Islamic bank, and follows a wider government push to develop the sector in the world’s eighth most populous Muslim nation. No tenor or details of underlying assets were given for the deal, which will be sold to qualified investors. Islamic lender Kuveyt Türk also applied for 1.85 billion lira worth of sukuk. Ziraat Participation Bank started operations in May 2015, with 675 million lira in paid-up capital and plans to have 170 branches and 2,200 staff by the end of 2018.

European bank arranges financing for Central Anatolian hospital

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced it is co-financing the development of a 318 million-euro high-tech hospital in Konya, a city in Turkey’s central Anatolian region. As part of a comprehensive long-term financial package, the EBRD has arranged a 147.5-million-euro-of syndicated loan under its A/B loan structure, with 67.5 million euros for the Bank’s own account and 80 million euros of syndicated to UniCredit Bank Austria AG and Siemens Financial Services. The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank are providing parallel financing of 50 million euros and 67.5 million euros respectively.

Emerging markets must enable Islamic finance: World Bank

Emerging markets must create the valid legal conditions and a “level playing field” to gain access to Islamic finance at the international level, Zamir Iqbal, the head of the World Bank Global Islamic Finance Development Center, has told Anadolu Agency.

“Islamic finance uses the techniques of securitization. This means that a good enabling environment for structured finance is needed”, Iqbal said, while speaking at a G-20 forum on Islamic finance in Istanbul.

Securitization, or structured finance, is the process of taking assets that produce income and using them to create security. In Islamic finance, all securities are linked to income-producing assets.

S&P: Ratings on Turkey unaffected by Bank Asya takeover

The Turkish banking regulator's decision to take over the management of Bank Asya did not affect the country's unsolicited sovereign credit ratings, Standard & Poor's announced Feb. 6. Turkey's current credit rating stands at BB+ with a "negative" outlook. The rating agency sees this decision as an isolated incident and not a harbinger of systemic distress in the banking sector or a determined politicization of Turkey's regulatory institutions, S&P said in the statement. Bank Asya's relatively small size makes it rather unlikely that there could be any contagion effects, it added. Following the Bank Asya takeover, the United States had called on all governments to ensure the monitoring of corporate and financial activity is done in line with international legal standards.

Gov’t says Bank Asya decision judicial, while depositors flow to bank to show support

The takeover of Bank Asya by the Turkish Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) is entirely legal and judicial, but not political, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu said on late Feb. 4. Many people continued to show their support to the bank by putting money into their bank accounts Feb. 5, although some others were reported closing their bank accounts. TMSF seized some 63 percent of Bank Asya shortly after the banking watchdog (BDDK) ruled in favor of its seizure on late Feb. 3. The BDDK said in a statement on its website that it seized the bank “because the institution has not presented a partnership structure that is transparent and open enough to allow for effective regulation.” The watchdog appointed a new board of directors immediately after the seizure.

Ministry ends key deal with Bank Asya

Islamic lender Bank Asya has received another blow, as the Customs and Trade Ministry has joined with two other state institutions in cancelling their contract with the bank. The ministry has decided to terminate customs tax collection protocols with Bank Asya as a result of assessments made, the ministry said in a press statement released on Aug. 13. The ministry informed the lender regarding the annulment on Aug. 12 and the cancellation will take effect on Sept. 12, the statement also noted. Last week, the Revenue Administration and Social Security Institution had separately announced annulling their contracts with the lender.

Pro-Gülen Islamic lender suffers 81 percent profit decline in second quarter

Islamic lender Bank Asya posted a net profit of 10.6 million Turkish Lira ($4.9 million) in the second quarter, a slide of 81 percent from a year earlier. The bank’s total profit decline for the first half of the year was 48.8 percent, making its non-consolidated profit 51.5 million liras for the six-month period. The lender has been going through a whirlwind year of deposit withdrawals, acquisition talks and state contract annulments, due to the ongoing power struggle between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and Gülen’s supporters. The bank’s future looked dim after the authorities cancelled its tax collection and social security payment deals on Aug. 7 - a sign according to observers that the government may be a step closer to winding down the lender.

Questions over Bank Asya’s future mount amid row of gov’t officials

The pressure on Islamic lender Bank Asya is growing as it has pit two senior government figures against each other amid a whirlwind day that saw the annulment of deals with two state institutions and suspension of its shares’ trading at the stock exchange. The lender has been under scrutiny after contradicting statements from Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Prime Minister Erdo?an’s economic adviser Yi?it Bulut regarding the possibility of its acquisition by state-owned lender Ziraat. Amid the political figures’ ongoing row, the lender received another blow when the Revenue Administration and state social security institution announced ending service deals with the lender. Bank Asya downplayed the impact of the annulment, but vowed to use its legal rights against the decision.

Pro-Gülen Islamic lender denies ending sales talks with Qatari bank

Turkish Islamic lender Bank Asya has ruled out reports of ending share sales talks with Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB). Several reports on July 2 claimed Bank Asya and the QIB have ended exclusive talks regarding the QIB acquiring a stake in the Turkish lender after failing to agree on price. The reports also quoted sources claiming Turkish state-run bank Ziraat Bank may now be the most likely partner for Bank Asya, but the two banks have not officially begun negotiations. Ziraat Bank officials said there had not yet been any official attempts to move toward Bank Asya, but they did not deny the possibility of such an acquisition either. Meanwhile, on July 1, Bank Asya announced it has moved to sell assets worth around 133 million liras.

Türkiye Finans says it plans more sukuk issues

Turkish lender Türkiye Finans plans to issue both lira and foreign currency-denominated sukuk in 2014, according to Chief Executive Derya Gürerk. The lender, majority owned by Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank, issued a $500 million sukuk earlier this year. The move reflects Turkey’s growing Islamic finance industry as the government promotes a wider range of Islamic finance products. The country now has 50 banks, four of which are Islamic: Al Baraka Turk, Bank Asya, Türkiye Finans and Kuveyt Türk, 62 percent owned by Kuwait Finance House. These banks have seen their assets grow six-fold over the last decade as their combined branch network has more than tripled.

Islamic banks’ share set to rise in Turkey

According to Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, the number of participation bank branches has reached 869, thier size of assets has increased to 81.5 billion Turkish Liras. Therefore, the participation banks’ share in assets is 5 percent and in funds it’s 6 percent. However, these figures are below expectations, he added. The minister stated that the tax difference between sukuk and bonds has been removed, legislation related to Islamic financing has been completed, and the private pension system has become able to be built on non-interest instruments. Moreover, Turkey has expressed its intention to create a legal basis for Takaful insurance, since Bahrain-based Albaraka is planning to found an Islamic insurance firm. Furthermore, two new participation banks from the Gulf countries had been preparing to enter to the country.

Istanbul bourse targets being Islamic finance center

Borsa Istanbul (BIST) aims to become one of the most prominent centers that work in accordance with the principles of participation banking in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Capital Markets Board (SPK) has prepared a regulation on non-interest financing tools, such as five new types of Islamic bond. The new rules, which were sent to Prime Minister’s office for approval this week, will allow Turkish corporate and banks, as well as the Treasury, to issue the world’s most widely used types of sukuk, giving them access to a wider pool of investors via a global market estimated at more than $100 billion. Turkey has also started an initiative to allow companies from 60 countries, chosen according to BIST’s vision of “Istanbul International Finance Center,” to sell their capital market tools in Istanbul and also to buy and sale of tools which are already sold.

Turkey urges bosses to invest in Saudi Arabia

The Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Ça?lyan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the members of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) on March 2 during a recent visit to Saudi Arabia. Through the MoU, he is aiming to form new trade and investment ties with the Islamic world. It includes the detection of fields of cooperation between the countries to encourage bilateral trade and investments. Moreover, Ça?layan called for Turkish contractors to take a share from Saudi Arabian infrastructure investments in order to reach $1 trillion in 20 years.

Turkish film about so-called 'Islamic' investment scam successfull internationally

Ben Verlong’s thriller “Takiye: Allah’?n Yolunda” a Dutch-Turkish joint production dealt with a major investment scam that lost many people’s life savings and the disappearance of investors along with huge amounts of money. The film starred Erhan Emre as a man who trusts his money in an Islamic investment, convincing those around him to do the same, only to be left empty-handed after the company goes bankrupt with the executives nowhere in sight.

The story is based on a major investment scam, which attracted substantial amounts in Germany from Turkish migrants.

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