By Avantika Chilkoti and Caitlin Ostroff
Turkey blocked three international banks from trading its currency Thursday, an effort to stymie investors who are betting that the country’s weak financial standing will continue to deteriorate.
Turkey’s banking regulator said units of Citigroup Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207741460/composite C +1.69% , BNP Paribas SA /zigman2/quotes/203020019/delayed XE:BNP +1.62% and UBS Group AG /zigman2/quotes/206172872/composite UBS +1.44% can no longer process transactions involving Turkish lira. It determined that the lenders had failed to fulfill their liabilities in Turkish lira transactions with Turkish banks. The watchdog didn’t say how long the ban would remain in force.
All three banks are international players in foreign-exchange markets, helping investors and companies trade into and out of the currencies, including the lira. The ban was issued hours after a new regulation that gave the banking regulator, known as the BDDK, increased powers to prosecute alleged market manipulation and the publication of misleading information. Representatives at UBS and BNP Paribas didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Citigroup declined to comment.
The Turkish currency /zigman2/quotes/210561895/realtime/sampled USDTRY -0.5010% hit a record low against the dollar earlier Thursday before bouncing back slightly after the trading ban was imposed. One U.S. dollar bought 7.1 lira, leaving the Turkish currency up 1% for the day, but 20% weaker than at the start of the year.
Read an expanded version of this article at WSJ.com.