ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a luncheon for participants of the 10th Ambassadors’ Conference yesterday. – AFP

KUWAIT: Kuwait has rebuffed as “ungrounded” reports that it injected KD 500 million ($1.6 billion) to back the Turkish lira, which has been in free fall over deteriorating ties with the US. Denying such reports, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Finance said in a statement that Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf met Turkish Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak at Kuwait International Airport on Sunday evening. During the meeting, both ministers addressed the latest economic situation in Turkey, where Kuwait has various investments, according to the statement. But they did not touch upon any possible support of the Turkish currency, nor did they make any financial or investment decisions, it confirmed.

Meanwhile Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan yesterday accused “economic terrorists” of plotting to harm Turkey by spreading false reports and said they would face the full force of the law, as authorities launched investigations of those suspected of involvement. The lira currency, which has lost more than 40 percent against the US dollar this year, pulled back from a record low of 7.24 earlier yesterday after the central bank pledged to provide liquidity, but it remained under selling pressure and its meltdown continued to rattle global markets.

“There are economic terrorists on social media,” Erdogan told a gathering of Turkish ambassadors at the presidential palace in Ankara, adding that the judiciary and financial authorities were taking action in response. “They are truly a network of treason,” he added. “We will not give them the time of day… We will make those spreading speculations pay the necessary price”.

Erdogan, who gained sweeping new powers following his re-election in June, said rumors had been spread that authorities might impose capital controls in response to the slump in the currency, which tumbled as much as 18 percent on Friday alone. The interior ministry said it had so far identified 346 social media accounts carrying posts about the exchange rate that it said created a negative perception of the economy. It said it would take legal measures against them but did not say what these would be.

Separately, the Istanbul and Ankara prosecutor’s offices launched investigations into individuals suspected of being involved in actions that threaten Turkey’s economic security, broadcaster CNN Turk and state news agency Anadolu reported. Turkey’s Capital Markets Board (SPK) and financial crime board have also said they would take legal steps against those who spread misinformation about financial institutions and firms, or reports that the government would seize foreign-currency deposits.

Earlier yesterday, Albayrak, who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law, said Turkey would start rolling out an economic action plan. Albayrak stressed the importance of budget discipline, and ruled out any seizure or conversion of dollar-denominated bank deposits into lira. Economists say the lira’s fall is due to worries about Erdogan’s influence over the economy, his repeated calls for lower interest rates, and worsening ties with the United States over the detention of a Christian pastor and other disputes.

Erdogan reiterated yesterday his view that the currency’s crash had no economic basis, saying that US sanctions imposed on Turkey over the terrorism trial of the pastor, Andrew Brunson, represented a “stab in the back” by a NATO ally. “We are together in NATO and then you seek to stab your strategic partner in the back. Can such a thing be accepted?” Erdogan asked. – Agencies