(Washington, D.C.) — The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP) has renewed its call for Stantec to cease its associations with notoriously corrupt Turkish companies and government bodies after the Canadian consulting company failed to explain its dealings with certain deeply controversial projects.
A consulting company which provides services in the energy, construction and financial sectors, Stantec is in a unique position to effect positive change by only associating with projects that meet the highest ethical and environmental standards.
However, the company is instead providing its planning, engineering, architecture and design services to a number of highly controversial Turkish companies and projects, including a stormwater infrastructure project in Gaziantep – a municipality riddled with corruption – and the Efemcukuru Mine’s Underground Crushing Station maintained by the Eldorado Gold Corporation and its subsidiary, Tüprag.
The construction and energy sectors in Turkey are linked to President Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (“AKP”) and are therefore plagued by corruption, abuse of power, and human right violations. In the fall of 2021, TDP began systematically researching and contacting companies that do business with the Turkish construction industry, identifying connections to corrupt Turkish businesses and government-sponsored projects. Each company has been informed of the specific legal, financial, and reputational risks of doing business with Turkey’s public sector.
On November 11, 2021, TDP sent a letter to Gord Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Stantec, outlining the legal, moral and environmental risks associated with Stantec’s Turkish investments. Corrupt organizations such as Eldorado Gold and Tüprag typify the toxic relationship between Erdogan’s administration and the worst elements of the Turkish private sector. These firms continue to operate with impunity and overturn court decisions despite evidence that their polluting activities are endangering the health of local communities. The appropriateness and ethical standing of Stantec’s stormwater infrastructure project in Gaziantep Municipality has likewise been called into question after local mayor Fatma Sahin (and former AKP minister) was found to have abused her post by rigging tenders in a criminal complaint.
Stantec responded to TDP’s request to clarify its business interests in an email on January 21. The firm stated that its policy is to remain politically neutral and to refrain from political activity, pointing to its dedication to “do what is right” while adhering to the “highest ethical standards” – including in its business in Turkey.
Stantec did not take the opportunity to explain how these exacting ethical standards were applied successfully to the Canadian’s company’s dealings with projects as notorious as those directed by Eldorado Gold and Tüprag.
In response, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, CEO of the Turkish Democracy Project said:
“Stantec has articulated its commitment to corporate social responsibility as part of its obligation to investors, consumers, and the public writ large. But paying lip service to these values is not the same as standing by them. Through consultancy and the provision of other project services, the firm continues to support industries that are directly implicated in the execution of environmental damage, systemic corruption, and abuse of political power.
“The burden of these harms is shouldered by the local communities in which Stantec operates, as well as the Turkish people as a whole. Doing what is right requires transparency and accountability.”