Turkish main opposition calls for investigation into bureaucrats buying and selling FX

Amidst a historic economic crisis and this week’s rapid rebound of the lira, the main opposition CHP party has proposed an investigation that would look into bureaucrats buying and selling - and therefore making a profit off of - foreign currency.

Duvar English

Turkey's main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has demanded a parliamentary inquiry into bureaucrats buying and selling foreign policy during the current historic volatility of the Turkish lira. The party wants to know if anyone who benefitted monetarily from the crisis was close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Presidential bureaucracy. 

This week, the lira soared to an all-time high of 18.0 against the dollar before rebounding to below 12.0 upon the announcement of an anti-dollarization scheme by President Erdoğan. This raised suspicions that those close to the President or who might have known about the scheme could have earned money from the lira’s rally.

The research proposal prepared by the CHP was presented to the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. They pointed out that the economy had been shaken as a result of the fluctuations and of Erdoğan’s low-interest-rate economic policy.

“These fluctuations in the value of the lira, which formed the basis of the economic crisis created by the one-man regime […] could have triggered decisions,” the proposal said.

The CHP proposal indicated that the sudden gain in the value ran counter to previous government statements about their economic policy, which raised doubts as to whether the volatility was a plan by those in power to earn money.

“These movements in the exchange rates provide fertile ground for those who know what the interest rate decisions will be, what kind of speech the President will make, at what point the Central Bank will intervene in the exchange rate to make profits on the foreign exchange market,” the CHP noted.

Since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led government first started lowering interest rates in September, the lira has increased by more than 130%. Therefore, those who knew the plan for this process, the CHP said, could have made profits of up to 130%. They could have made even more if they took advantage of the minute fluctuations in the exchange rates. 

Article 4 of the Central Bank Charter says that all decisions made by the bank are made independently, but it is common knowledge that the economy is being directed by the president. In other words, no one can claim that there is an “independent Central Bank” whose decisions are unbeknownst to those in power. In fact, a speech made by the brother of the Minister of Treasury and Finance prior to the last Central Bank meeting indicating he already knew what the outcome indicates that the Bank’s decisions are known prior to the announcement. 

As a result of all of these factors, as well as because of the known monetary corruption of the ruling party, the CHP is calling for a list of all names of those involved in government who bought or sold foreign currency in recent weeks to ensure that there was no inside trading. 

“It is a necessity for the Turkish Grand National Assembly, which is responsible for protecting the country’s economy, to reveal everything that happened on December 20, 2021, and in its aftermath,” they wrote. “It is necessary to investigate what exchanges were made."