Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan has found herself at the centre of allegations of corruption after news website Oda TV accused her and her husband of winning contracts to supply thousands of litres of disinfectant to her own ministry.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) called on Pekcan to explain whether her ministry and related institutions procured 9 million liras ($1.1 million) of the disinfectant from a company she owns.
Pekcan has failed to answer questions on the incriminating claims for the past two days, said Ali Öztunç, deputy head of the CHP’s parliamentary group, in a video message published by the Anka news agency.
“Did you sell it or not? Stop avoiding the question and answer this,” Öztunç said. “Was there no other company that could have done this work? Are you considering resigning?”
Pekcan became minister in July 2018, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reshuffled his cabinet after gaining vast new presidential powers at elections. She is a former investment banker and a businesswoman. In 2005, she founded Karon Mühendislik ve Ticaret Ltd., the firm at the centre of the allegations which is also active in infrastructure projects including irrigation and pipelines.
Karon and disinfectant producer Nanoksia Biyoteknoloji, owned by Pekcan and her husband Hasan Pekcan and chaired by the latter, supplied the disinfectant, which the ministry and related institutions used to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Oda TV’s Can Özçelik reported on Friday. One of the institutions was the Turkish Exporters Union (TİM), he said, providing copies of alleged invoices from Istanbul-based Nanoksia.
It would be the first time a minister is incriinated in such an act, Öztunç said.
Ruhsar Pekcan owns 40 percent of Karon, Oda TV said, citing official records from the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO). Nanoksia is a subsidiary of Karon, according to its website.
(This story was updated with details of allegations in the sixth paragraph.)