(Washington, D.C.) — The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP) has called on American global food corporation Cargill to urgently review its business dealings and investments with Turkish companies and government bodies due to a serious and increasing risk of systemic corruption.
In Fall 2021, TDP initiated a campaign investigating international companies with links to corrupt Turkish firms and dubious government sponsored projects. TDP’s research has found that Cargill plays a significant role in the Turkish food industry.
Since President Erdogan’s rise to power, Turkish democracy has undergone steady erosion, with almost no branch of government nor sector of the economy remaining free from executive meddling. A group of oligarchs, dubbed by the media the “gang of five”, are routinely awarded billion-dollar public tenders in return for their unwavering support of the regime’s policies. This rigged tender process has enabled these companies to harvest enormous profits and even avoid bankruptcy, while also strengthening Erdogan’s grip over every aspect of Turkish society.
Having identified numerous risks to Cargill’s presence in Turkey, TDP sent a letter to Cargill’s Board Chair and CEO David MacLennan on April 18, 2022. Cargill responded only by citing its commitment to “conducting business with integrity” and operating responsibly in Turkey.
In response, Ambassador Mark Wallace, CEO of the Turkish Democracy Project, said:
“Cargill has a stated commitment to upholding ethical standards in its business operations in Turkey. While Cargill is an important trader in vital foodstuffs, that trade serves to primarily economically benefit those that entrench Erdogan’s kleptocratic and authoritarian government in power to the detriment of the Turkish people. The systematic corruption fostered by Erdogan’s government defrauds the Turkish people, endangers the country’s economy and ultimately funds the further oppression of Turks.”