FITCH CUTS TURKEY 2018 GDP GROWTH FORECAST TO 3.9%

Dünya Executive - - OVERVIEW -

London-based Fitch Ratings revised down Turkey’s 2018 GDP growth forecast from an earlier forecast of 4.1% to 3.9% on Nov. 23. Fitch said investigat­ions by US authoritie­s into a group of Turkish traders and bankers accused of helping Iran to evade sanctions could put Turkish banks’ ratings under further pressure if the situation escalates. “Given the noise around the US investigat­ions, if there was a case of reputation­al damage resulting in diminished access to market or a large fine that wasn’t offset by state support, it could result in negative rating pressure,” said Lindsey Liddell, Fitch’s director of financial institutio­ns. US prosecutor­s have charged Reza Zarrab with engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars of transactio­ns on behalf of Iran’s government and other Iranian entities, which were barred by US sanctions. Zarrab also allegedly laundered the proceeds and defrauded several financial institutio­ns by concealing the true nature of his illegal transactio­ns, according to US authoritie­s. Turkey’s former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, who is also the former general manager of stateowned Halkbank, Suleyman Aslan and two others have also been charged for conspiring to evade US sanctions on Iran. Liddell added that capital buffers in the Turkish banking sector were currently “sufficient to absorb moderate shocks. However, risks to bank capitaliza­tion remain in the event of further lira devaluatio­n or higher than expected non-performing loan growth.”

Ankara rebuffs claims Halkbank to be replaced

A top Turkish official on Nov. 20 rebuffed claims that the functions of Turkey’s Halkbank would be transferre­d to another state-owned bank, Emlakbank. “There is no such thing. Turkey’s banking watchdog will make the necessary explanatio­n,” Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek told reporters in Ankara, referring to the Banking Regulation and Supervisio­n Agency (BDDK). The claims come amid US probes into Halkbank over alleged violations of sanctions on Iran.

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