(Washington, D.C.) — The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP) has called on Hill International, an American construction and consulting company, to examine its ties with the Turkish construction sector, which is intimately connected to the autocratic Turkish government.
In Fall 2021, TDP initiated a campaign investigating international companies with links to corrupt Turkish construction firms and dubious government sponsored projects. TDP’s research has found that Hill International owns the project management firm IMS Proje Yonetimi ve Danismanlik A.S, a Turkish company which offers construction project management services.
Over the last 18 years, Erdogan has used the construction sector to reward business allies for their unwavering political and financial support and strengthen his grip over Turkish society. A handful of companies, known as the gang of five, have been awarded the vast majority of the state’s public tenders without any competitive process. These five companies formed the consortium that built and now operates the Istanbul New Airport, a project which cost Turkish taxpayers $12 billion. Overpriced, mega-infrastructure projects, such as the Istanbul New Airport and others, have drained the country’s funds while often causing severe environmental damage. In return, the same conglomerates benefitting from these projects help to shore up Erdogan’s control over the media and help to stifle dissent.
Having identified extensive legal and ethical risks in Hill International’s Turkish business interests, especially through its association with the construction industry, TDP sent a letter on December 3, 2021, to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Raouf S. Ghali.
Commenting on Hill International’s lack of response, Ambassador Mark Wallace, CEO of the Turkish Democracy Project said:
“We urge Hill International to immediately review its involvement in Turkey given the risks identified by TDP. The Turkish construction sector is rife with pervasive corruption and rigged tenders that keep Erdogan in power, enable repression, and silence dissent. No prudent and responsible company should be doing business in Turkey.”