One of Turkey’s largest banks Akbank sold the the dollar well below market in the early hours of the New Year.
The bank sold the greenback at below 5 lira, while the going rate for the dollar was 5.38 lira.
The bank attributed the below market rate selling to a “market shallow”.
“In order to protect our customers and the bank, foreign exchange trading was temporarily halted and then returned to normal operations. ‘Market shallow’ cause the cheap dollar selling,” Akbank said in a statement.
“On the date of 01.01.2019, Tuesday, between 2:28 – 03:41 trading hours, as a result of market shallow, trading margin gap occurred in our system and exchange rates remained lower than the market announced,” Akbank said.
Following US President Donald Trump’s tweet on July 26 over Turkey’s jailing of Pastor Andrew Brunson the lira lost up to 40 percent of its value against the dollar, trading at one point at seven lira to the greenback.
It has partially recovered, but it never regained the levels seen in early 2018.
This is the second such underselling of the dollar in the past year, which many have labelled currency manipulation.
Akbank made no statement or comment on whether it would reverse the cheap dollar transactions.
Social media was rude with comments over how the bank had made some people rich overnight.
On the night if August 31, 2018 through to the next morning of September 1, the state-owned Halkbank also sold dollars on the cheap. Dollars at 3.88 lira in late night trading on Friday before its website went offline. The dollar had closed the week at 6.58 lira.
Halkbank at the time defended the unlawful dollar selling by saying that the cheap currency trading was a result of a failure of third-party foreign exchange software.
Turkey’s private Akbank is one the biggest bank with its 13.7 billion lira revenue in 2017. Akbank was founded in 1948 and the bank’s biggest shareholder are members of the Sabanci family.