Turkey regulator denies report it ordered 11 top bankers dismissed

Turkey’s banking watchdog denied a report by Bloomberg that it ordered the dismissal of 11 senior bankers in the private sector.

The regulator said it reserved the right to take legal action, characterising the report as baseless and false in a statement on Sunday.

The 11 former bankers said they were dismissed in the past two years on the orders of the regulator, overseen by Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Bloomberg said earlier on Sunday.

Turkish authorities are extending their campaign against perceived political enemies in the $750-billion finance industry, Bloomberg said. The dismissals occurred between late 2017 and October this year, it said.

All but one banker wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

Two senior government officials said Turkey’s economic leadership was trying to eliminate people it saw as traitors in both the public and private sector, particularly since a currency crisis in August last year, Bloomberg said.

The bankers said the government was relying increasingly on pressure tactics and threats of legal action, according to the news wire. The private sector can no longer operate without government interference and the bond and currency markets have been weakened by state intervention, the bankers said, according to Bloomberg.

One senior loan official said he was forced out of his job in the aftermath of the currency crisis. He was never told why, Bloomberg said. His CEO told him in a patisserie that the regulator demanded that he be barred from the bank and his email shut down immediately.

The banker said that once officials responsible for lending decisions were fired, it cleared the way for pro-government businessmen to get the loans they needed.

Debt restructuring demands that were “ridiculous” were then quickly approved, the banker said, according to Bloomberg.