In an effort to make doing business in Turkey easier and boost both domestic and cross-border private investments, Turkey has overhauled the relevant laws governing banking and finance, including the Commercial Code, the Electronic Signature Law and the Cheque Law, allowing bank letters of guarantee to be provided easier and cheques to be used as a safer payment tool.
What the amendments include
- Banks must include a 2D code and serial number to their cheque books issued after December 31, 2016. The 2D code allows the payees of the cheques to run a comprehensive check on the drawer's identity, amount of outstanding and dishonored cheques and other details on a person's cheque history. The payee of a cheque must record the cheques bearing a 2D-code to the electronic cheque register after December 31, 2017.
- The 2D code and serial number requirement will not apply to cheques whose drawees are banks outside of Turkey.
- Banks issuing cheque books on behalf of legal entities must now record the directors and authorized signatories of the legal entity. Cheque books must now contain the individuals' identification number or the legal entity's central registration number.
- The drawers (and the directors and authorized signatories of legal entities) will be charged up to TRY 30,000 and 150,000 for each bounced cheque, which cannot be less than the dishonored cheque's amount along with accrued interest and/or litigation and/or enforcement expenses.
- The drawers will not have any recourse to prepayment, settlement or probation methods to reduce the judicial fine amount. Failure to pay the judicial fine will result in imprisonment for up to five years. If, however, the drawer pays the dishonored cheque's amount, accrued interest and/or litigation and/or enforcement expenses, the lawsuit will be dropped and the drawer's cheque prohibition will be cancelled.
Letters of Guarantee
- The new law provides an exception where banks can issue letters of guarantees using e-signatures. In the Turkish market, Turkish governmental authorities and state-owned companies customarily require letters of guarantees or performance bonds from private investors when providing services or participating in governmental tenders.
- The letters of guarantee previously given to government offices will be returned to the relevant banks if (i) the guaranteed amount is below TRY 500, (ii) the letter of guarantee is at least 10 years old, and not disputed.
The law aims to increase the pace and reliability of banking transactions in Turkey. Turkish banks can now issue letters of guarantee, a widely used security in Turkey, faster and with less red tape. Furthermore, due to common use of cheques and an increasing amount of dishonored cheques, the policymakers aim to create an instantaneous verification mechanism to check the drawer's financial reliability while increasing sanctions for dishonored cheques.