Turkish authorities freeze 1.5 million bank accounts over unpaid debts - Sözcü

The Turkish government has frozen 1.5 million citizens’ bank accounts over unpaid debts and fines using a new electronic debt recovery system, nationalist opposition daily Sözcü reported on Tuesday.

Turkey’s Treasury and Finance Ministry began implementing the “e-haciz” system to claim unpaid debts from some 3.3 million people in mid-October. The freeze on citizens’ accounts this week is the second wave in an initiative that demands repayment of almost all debts with very few exemptions, Sözcü reported.

The accounts of citizens including the unemployed and those claiming widows' and orphans' pensions have been frozen. The initiative encompasses nearly all unpaid debts, including for vehicle tax, court fees, fines for misdemeanours such as smoking, and student loans, Sözcü said.

Sözcü quoted sources as saying that “for the first time the e-haciz programme has blocked not only debtors but their business partners and family members.”

Sözcü contributor and tax expert Nedim Türkmen said the system was also freezing some corporate executives’ accounts over debts owed by their companies despite corporate laws assigning equal responsibility to management and shareholders.

Türkmen said the government was aggressively pursuing debtors in an effort to close the budget deficit, which the Treasury and Finance Ministry forecast to reach 125 billion liras ($21.6 billion) by the year’s end.