A public tender for construction work on a sewage system in the northeastern Turkish province of Artvin valued at TL 20,566,000 ($2.9 million) has been won by a company with links to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Birgün daily reported on Tuesday.
İller Bankasi A.Ş. (İLBANK), a state-owned development and investment bank affiliated with Turkey’s Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and based in Ankara, reportedly held the tender on Sept. 24, 2020, and awarded it to Diyarbakır-based construction company Ensar İnşaat on Dec. 3.
According to Birgün’s report, 40 companies bid for the construction work in Artvin, but İLBANK considered 38 of them “ineligible” and chose between the remaining two companies.
Ensar inşaat, which is expected to finish the work in Artvin in 500 days, is owned by relatives of Galip Ensarioğlu, a former two-term Diyarbakır deputy for the ruling AKP, Birgün said.
Mustafa Ensarioğlu, CEO of Ensar inşaat, told Birgün that Ensarioğlu was not a partner of their company.
“Former AKP lawmaker Mehmet Galip Ensarioğlu is my uncle. He is not a partner in our company. We submitted a bid [for the construction work] and were then invited to sign a contract. That’s all I know,” he said.
The majority of public contracts worth millions of dollars have been awarded to pro-government companies, including Cengiz Holding and Limak Holding, during AKP rule.
Although Cengiz and Limak are two of the world’s top 10 private sponsors of public infrastructure projects for the years 1990 to 2020, according to World Bank data, Turkey’s opposition parties accuse them of tender-rigging and claim they are among Turkey’s biggest tax evaders.
In 2013, a corruption investigation was launched into dozens of suspects, including Cengiz Holding CEO Mehmet Cengiz, close to then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. However, all the police officers and prosecutors involved in the case were dismissed from their jobs due to Erdoğan’s interference, with most of those police officers currently behind bars.