Turkey’s banking watchdog, Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BRSA) filed a criminal complaint about social media users, including opposition MPs and economists, after Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati alleged that the fall of the Turkish Lira was a result of “speculations.”
“I would expect the BRSA to act quickly. Lawsuits on the ground of misleading and speculations must be filed immediately. In addition, there should be more criminal complaints,” Nebati told on December 27 in a televised interview, informing the public about the current financial policies that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) cabinet has undertaken.
Arguing that the currency crisis, which caused the Turkish Lira to lose up to thirty percent in value in a month, resulted from a “speculation,” Nebati called on the BRSA to initiate an investigation on speculation.
Immediately after Nebati’s call, the BRSA filed a criminal complaint about 26 social media accounts, and Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal investigation about four people.
Opposition MP’s former President advisor among the list
Among the list of BRSA, there were journalists, economists and also opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Burhanettin Bulut, İYİ ( Good) Party MP and former Central Bank Governor Durmuş Yılmaz and former advisor of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan İzzet Özgenç. Özgenç stirred a debate in early December by arguing that the AKP government might declare an “economic state of emergency.”
BRSA filed the complaints on the ground that they violated Article 74 of the Banking Law “because of their posts on social media and media organs aimed to manipulate exchange rate movements.”
Article 74 stipulates that “no real or legal person shall intentionally damage the reputation, prestige or assets of a bank or disseminate inaccurate news either using any means of communication defined in the Press Code No. 5187 or radio, television, video, internet, cable TV or electronic data communication devices and similar tools.”
Following the rapid decline in the Turkish Lira since November caused the exchange rate crisis, President Tayyip Erdoğan announced on December 20, that related institutions will implement a series of fiscal policy instruments. Following the statement of Erdoğan, TL has gained rapid value in hours.
Nebati: “No one intervened that night”
Central Bank did not intervene in the market by making direct sales that night. However, the fact that the analytical balance sheet of the Central Bank indicate a total of 7 billion dollars drop on 20 and 21 December brought forward allegations that this amount was sold to the market “indirectly” through public banks and that the increase of the TL value was as a result of this sale. According to Article 56 of the Central Bank Law, it is illegal for the bank to make advances and open loans to the Treasury and public institutions and organizations and purchase debt instruments issued by the Treasury and public institutions and organizations from the primary market.
In addition, Nebati’s being held a meeting with the bankers two days before the announcement of Erdoğan and informing them about the new fiscal policies raised allegations that some investors were informed about a possible fell of the currency, and they made an unfair profit out of this information.
Denying the allegations vehemently, Nebati said that the steps taken were within the framework of the law and legislation and stated that the decrease in the exchange rate resulted from “currency exchange by individual sellers”.
“No one intervened in any way. Instead, thousands of individual sellers stepped in. They competed against each other that night. It is said that big investors have been informed. They claim that 40 billion dollars have been put into the market,” he said.
“The Central Bank is transparent. Their balance sheets are open. It is not possible for the public authority to manipulate these figures and to go in a different direction,” he added.