Turkey: Obligation Of Banks Relating To Confidential Information Of Clients In Turkish Legislation

Last Updated: 27 March 2012
Article by Su Şimsek

Client Confidentiality

Client confidentiality is the principle that an institution or individual should not reveal client information received in connection with their position to a third party without the consent of the client or a clear legal reason. This article focuses on the obligation of banks relating to client and bank confidentiality regulated under Banking Law no. 5411 ("Law"), the boundaries thereof and the exceptions in other legislation to this obligation. For this purpose, (i) the context of confidential information, (ii) the definition of other related terms, (iii) the context of authorization by law, and (iv) a non-exhaustive list of laws expressly authorizing various authorities shall be examined.

Context of Confidential Information

Article 73, Clause 3 of the Law stipulates that banks' partners, board members, employees, representatives and officials as well as the institutions to which banks outsource services and the employees of such institutions are not allowed to disclose secrets of the banks or their clients that enter into their possession due to their capacities and positions to persons other than the authorities explicitly authorized by law.

According to this clause, the aforementioned persons are forbidden from sharing confidential information relating to any bank or client with third parties. The same clause, however, states that the confidential information relating to banks and clients may be shared under certain conditions with the authorities expressly authorized by law.

If such information is shared with third parties outside the purview of the law, the bank and the relevant employees shall be subject to criminal sanctions according to Article 159 of the Law and Article 239 of Turkish Criminal Code no. 5237 ("TCC"). People not abiding with this obligation shall be sentenced to imprisonment from one (1) year to three (3) years and a judicial fine from 1,000 days up to 2,000 days (judicial fines determine the amount to be paid by the perpetrator each day based on income and other socioeconomic factors). The violation of this obligation also has consequences within private law, such as tort liability and termination of the contract with just cause in favor of the other party.

Related Terms

Under the Law, banks are divided into three groups in accordance with the operations they perform; (i) deposit banks, (ii) participation banks operating in accordance with Islamic principles and (iii) development and investment banks that provide banking services (especially loans to commercial parties) without accepting deposits.

Although client is not defined under the provisions of the Law, it is inferred from Article 76 of the Law, titled "client rights" that any real or legal personality to which the bank gives its services shall be considered a client.

It should also be noted that the reason confidential information pertaining to banks is within the scope of this article is that the confidential information pertaining to banks also includes confidential information pertaining to clients.

According to the Draft Law on Commercial Secrets, Banking Secrets and Client Secrets (Ticari Sır, Banka Sırrı ve Müşteri Sırrı Hakkında Kanun Tasarısı) ("Draft Law"), the information available to the management and audit boards of the bank and to the other employees concerning finances, economics, credit and liquidity of the bank, and information or documents relating to customer potential, credit extension, deposit collection, fundamentals of management and other services and activities related to banking and risk positions are defined as confidential information pertaining to banks.

According to Article 73 of the Law, confidential information pertaining to banks shall not be disclosed by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency ("BRSA"), its related employees, or banks' partners, board members, employees, representatives and officials and the institutions to which banks outsource services and the employees of such institutions, as well as any person who has received such information in connection with their position and duties.

The term "in connection with their position and duties" is to be interpreted broadly, such that it includes information received by coincidence or during a casual conversation. Neither the bank nor its employees may use the information in their own favor.

The bank may consent to disclose its confidential information. Article 26 of the TCC stipulates that no punishment is given to a person acting with the consent of a person relating to a right that can be granted by that person. Accordingly, disclosing confidential information about a bank which has given its consent would not be punished under either the TCC or the Law.

According to the Draft Law, the confidential information pertaining to clients shall be defined as any information or any document obtained directly or indirectly by commercial organizations and companies, banks, insurance companies, intermediary firms operating in capital and financial markets relating to the personal, economic, financial, liquidity and credit status of the client within the context of their field of operation.

Confidential information pertaining to clients is also to be interpreted broadly to include any information received in connection with the client before or after an agreement. BRSA stated in a notice that the name, phone number or address of a client cannot be shared with third parties without their consent. Even when an agreement is not finalized, the information received shall be treated as a part of the obligation of banks relating to confidential information.

Context of Authorization by Law

In general terms, "law" may refer to regulations and communiqués beside laws in the strict sense of the concept. Through a close interpretation, however, BRSA concluded that an institution cannot request confidential information based on authority given by a regulation. Within this line, the authorization given to the Istanbul Stock Exchange ("ISE") to request all kinds of information and documents from its members under the Regulation on the Istanbul Stock Exchange, Article 9, subparagraph (f) is not valid. The ISE is not authorized by law to request information from its banks and other intermediary firms constituting its members.

An institution authorized by law shall not examine the bank's records in their entirety. Their authorization is restricted to the subject of the authorizing law at hand. In practice, therefore, institutions state the law and the article from which they derive their authorization when requesting such confidential information.

Institutions Authorized by Law

Within the scope of the Law and the other relevant legislation, the institutions authorized to request such confidential information and other documents are as follows:

  • BRSA is authorized, by paragraph 8 of Article 95 of the Law, to request and investigate all information and documents, including confidential information, from banks, their subsidiaries, the undertakings where they hold qualified shares, the undertakings they control jointly, their branches and representative offices, institutions to which they outsource services and other real and legal persons. According to Article 96, these aforementioned institutions and persons are obliged to provide the information.
  • The following chart includes a non-exhaustive list of other institutions which are authorized under various laws to request confidential information from banks relating to their clients and legal persons.

Military Prosecutors

Establishment of Military Courts and Procedure Law no. 353 Article 97

Bankruptcy and Enforcement Offices

Bankruptcy and Enforcement Law no. 2004 Article 367

Tax Auditors

Tax Procedural Law no. 213 Article 148

Capital Markets Board

Capital Markets Law no. 2499 Article 45

Treasury Board

Law on the Organization and Functions of the Undersecretariat of the Treasury and Undersecretariat of Foreign Trade no. 4059 Article 5

The Saving Deposit Insurance Fund

Law Article 123

Turkish Competition Authority

Act on the Protection of Competition no. 4054 Article 14

State Planning Organization

Decree Law on the Organization and Functions of the State Planning Organization no. 540 Article 23

State Supervisory Council

Law on the Foundation of State Supervisory Council no. 2443 Article 7

Turkish Republic Central Bank

Turkish Republic Central Bank Law no. 1211 Article 43

Turkish Statistical Institute

Turkish Statistical Law no. 5429 Article 7


This article examines the obligation of banks not to disclose any confidential information relating to banks and clients, its content and exceptions.

From the Law and the above chart it is evident that authorization must be given by law, in the strict sense of the concept, to the institution requesting confidential information pertaining to banks and the clients thereof.

Based on the relevant legislation, in order to evaluate whether the request to disclose confidential information pertaining to banks and their clients raises any obligation to disclose such information without violating legal obligations, the institution that directly demands the information and its purpose for requesting such confidential information must clearly be stated. The statement must clearly indicate that all the requested information falls within the authorization of the related law. Such clarification is necessary to avoid any inappropriate disclosures and thus any sanctions that could be imposed on the bank and its employees.


The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions