Turkey’s finance and treasury minister, Berat Albayrak, who is also the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, bought 3.2 acres of land around the route of Kanal İstanbul, an artificial waterway the Justice and Development Party (AKP) plans to have constructed in İstanbul, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
Kanal İstanbul, which Erdoğan dubbed his “crazy project,” will bisect the European side of İstanbul to connect the Black Sea to the Marmara and Mediterranean seas. It is scheduled to be completed by 2023; however, there is widespread public opposition to its construction due to environmental and financial concerns.
According to Cumhuriyet, Albayrak purchased the land in the Arnavutköy neighborhood of İstanbul in 2012, one year after Erdoğan announced his plans for construction of the channel.
Following Cumhuriyet’s report, Albayrak’s lawyer Ahmet Özel issued a statement and accused the daily of directing baseless accusations at the minister.
The lawyer said Albayrak’s father, Sadık, bought real estate in the same area in 2003, and when the land next to his father’s went on the market in 2012, Berat Albayrak wanted to purchase it to prevent another person from owning land adjacent to his father’s parcel.
Özel said the purchase had nothing to do with Kanal İstanbul.
The AKP government and Erdoğan claim the channel is necessary for the safety of İstanbul’s Bosporus Strait, which sees busy marine traffic; however, opponents of the project say it is aimed at generating money for pro-AKP circles.