(Washington, D.C.) — The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP) has called on AECOM, an American multinational infrastructure consulting firm, to clarify its association with IC Ibrahim Çeçen Investment Holding A.S (IC Holding), a company whose chairman, Ibrahim Çeçen, has been implicated in numerous corruption scandals involving the Turkish government.
In Fall 2021, TDP initiated a campaign calling on international companies to cease their associations with corrupt Turkish construction firms and dubious government sponsored projects. TDP’s research has found that AECOM is associated with a number of controversial Turkish projects known to inflict significant environmental damage.
AECOM is currently providing architectural, urban planning and management services for the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, a project built and maintained by IC İçtaş Construction, a subsidiary of IC Holding. Named after the brutal and oppressive ninth Ottoman emperor, this $3 billion Bosporus bridge project has been strongly criticized by environmental groups for contaminating freshwater basins and sealing them with concrete and asphalt. The project resulted in massive deforestation, as well as drying up wetlands, which has contributed to a serious water crisis in the Istanbul area. This environmental damage has been aggravated by similar projects such as the North Marmara Highway, also awarded to IC İçtaş Construction.
The Chairman of IC Holding, Ibrahim Çeçen, is part of a corrupt circle of oligarchs, dubbed the “gang of five” by the media, who benefit from billions of liras worth of non-competitive tenders in exchange for their unconditional support for President Erdogan.
Ibrahim Çeçen was also involved in the acquisition of the Turkuvaz Media Group by Kalyon Holding. Leaked tapes revealed in 2014 that Erdogan personally required his close business allies, including Çeçen, to pool resources to assist Kalyon’s purchase of the media group. In the tapes, Çeçen promised to contribute $150 million to the pool if he was brought in on the new Istanbul airport project. In return, Erdogan saw a close ally gain control of an important media group, helping his regime consolidate control of Turkey’s media landscape.
Having identified substantial legal, moral and environmental risks implicating AECOM in through its association with IC Holding, TDP sent a letter on September 18, 2021, to AECOM’s Chief Executive Officer, W. Troy Rudd.
Commenting on AECOM’s lack of response and continued association with the corrupt Turkish firm, Ambassador Mark Wallace, CEO of the Turkish Democracy Project, said:
“AECOM must immediately cease its association with IC Holding, a company whose corrupt relationship with the Turkish regime consistently harms the well-being of the Turkish people and the economy of the country. IC Holding’s construction projects have also greatly damaged Istanbul’s ecosystem. AECOM must comply with the principles and standards it so highly promotes and end its collaboration with projects which bolster Erdogan’s autocratic rule.”