Turkish State Railways (TCDD) awarded more than TL 42 million ($5 million) in tenders to a construction company on whose board the father-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan serves as a member, over a period of nine years, the Birgün daily reported on Tuesday.
Orhan Uzuner, the father of Bilal Erdoğan’s wife Reyyan Erdoğan, is a board member of Uzka Construction, which was awarded nine TCDD tenders valued at TL 42,363,000 ($5.09 million) between 2011 and 2019.
Birgün’s report was based on figures from the Public Procurement Authority (KİK), a regulatory and monitoring agency.
In 2011 Uzka Construction also won a tender worth TL 893,000 ($107,272) held by the Adana Metropolitan Municipality, which was then ruled by the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of Erdoğan’s AKP since February 2018, Birgün said.
The newspaper previously reported that a TL 376.4 million ($45.2 million) tender held by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure was awarded in August 2020 to Uzka Construction and Kolin Construction, one of the five firms in Turkey that are referred to by opposition parties as the “gang of five” for having won nearly all the large tenders during Erdoğan’s time in office.
The İstanbul Anadolu 5th Criminal Court of Peace previously banned access to the Birgün report, stating that it was “a violation of personal rights,” the daily said in Tuesday’s report.
Cengiz Holding, Limak Holding, MNG Holding and Kalyon Construction, in addition to Kolin, comprise the so-called gang of five. They are among the world’s top 10 private sponsors of public infrastructure projects by investment and region and by investment and primary sector for the years 1990 to 2020, according to World Bank data. The opposition parties accuse them of rigging tenders and claim they are Turkey’s biggest tax evaders.
Uzuner, who started working as an engineer at an İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) company in 1994 – when Erdoğan was elected mayor of İstanbul – was also an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from İstanbul in the 2002 general election.