Ex-Central Bankers Among Turkey Lira Pundits Facing Lawsuit

Turkey’s banking watchdog filed a criminal complaint against many individuals, including two former central bank governors, over their comments on the lira.

Among those targeted with the complaint are Durmus Yilmaz and Rusdu Saracoglu, former chiefs of the monetary authority, economists including Guldem Atabay, opposition lawmaker Burhanettin Bulut and media commentators Emin Capa, Selcuk Gecer and Seref Oguz. The list published late Monday by the regulator names 23 Twitter accounts and three individuals.

The regulator said the commentators attempted to manipulate exchange rate movements. The individuals are accused of violating an article of the banking law that protects the reputation of banks.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced extraordinary measures on Dec. 20 to arrest the lira’s losses against the dollar, including a new deposit tool that protects savers against currency depreciation. The lira regained some of its heavy losses that day, with a trough-to-peak move of 33%.

Speaking on Halk TV on Dec. 20, Durmus Yilmaz, who’s now an opposition lawmaker, said the advance of the Turkish currency that night presented a “buying opportunity.”

Erdogan slammed the former governor for committing the crime of “manipulation in financial markets” and warned that manipulators “will pay the price.” Speaking on Friday, he said “the banking regulator took the necessary steps.”

Economist Atabay rejected the accusations in comments by phone on Monday. 

“I don’t think I’ve crossed any lines,” she said. “I will wage a legal fight and meanwhile will continue to do my job.”

Bloomberg /Aslı Kandemir-Taylan Bilgiç