(Washington, D.C.) — The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP) has called on Honeywell, an American multinational firm providing construction, security, engineering, and aviation services in Turkey, to urgently clarify its dealings with Rönesans Holding, which as well as being notorious for corruption in its own right is also a linchpin in President Erdogan’s system of working with select oligarchs to syphon vast funds out of the Turkish economy while expanding the President’s authoritarian control.
In Fall 2021, TDP initiated a campaign investigating international companies with links to corrupt Turkish construction firms and dubious government sponsored projects. Honeywell’s diverse Turkish portfolio includes close cooperation with Rönesans Holding, one of the country’s biggest and most influential holding companies with business interests in construction and real estate development.
Honeywell’s operations with Rönesans Holding include President Edrogan’s new $500 million vanity project: a 1,150-room presidential palace and the biggest residential palace in the world. As is typical under the Erdogan regime, this grossly overpriced and redundant project was awarded to Rönesans Holding through a non-competitive tendering process.
Erdogan’s tender rigging system extends beyond the ostentatious palace. The Ceyhan Project, on which Honeywell also works closely with Rönesans Holding, is a polypropylene production plant which also emanated from Erdogan’s rigged tender system. Rönesans Holding is believed to have received approximately 16 billion liras (about $1 billion) worth of state tenders from the Turkish government. By awarding non-competitive tenders to his close associates, President Erdogan has enriched a small circle of oligarchs who have in turn provided the regime with the resources necessary to consolidate control over Turkish society.
The Turkish Democracy Project has mapped Erdogan’s web of corruption as revealed by the Pandora, Paradise and Panama papers—research which has directly implicated Rönesans Holding. The Founder and President of Rönesans Holding, Erman Ilicak, was implicated in the Pandora Papers for gross income tax evasion, having transferred $210 million to two offshore companies. Absent this tax evasion, Rönesans Holding would have owed 750 million lira (over $51 million) to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
TDP’s research also revealed that Honeywell contributes to an industrial aerospace project that enables Turkey to circumvent the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and continue selling helicopter and drone technology to corrupt governments.
Having identified extensive legal and ethical risks in Honeywell’s Turkish portfolio, TDP sent a letter on April 8, 2022 to the firm’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Darius Adamczyk, urging Honeywell to urgently assess and cease its association with Rönesans Holding.
Commenting on Honeywell’s lack of response, Ambassador Mark Wallace, CEO of the Turkish Democracy Project, said:
“We call on Honeywell to immediately terminate its collaboration with Rönesans Holding and its projects in Turkey broadly. Erdogan’s corruption, abuses of power, and human rights violations are facilitated by the vast sums of wealth transferred to key oligarchs through the state’s rigged tender system. Turkey’s people pay the economic and social price for the entrenched wealth of oligarchs like Erman Ilicak. Honeywell must consider the legal, reputational, commercial, and financial risks of cooperating with companies which act profoundly inconsistently with the ethical and moral standards by which Honeywell abides.”