Developer who sold site to Tesco has been accused of bribing a Turkish politician to speed through planning permission

Tesco has been caught up in a political scandal in Turkey after it was discovered that its largest Kipa store in Istanbul was built amid allegations of bribery.

Though Tesco itself is not accused in the case, the entrepreneur who sold the site has been accused of offering a Turkish politician a $1m bribe to rush the planning application through.

The man named as Mehmet Karasu has denied any wrongdoing. According to a contract seen by the Financial Times, Tesco paid Mr Karasu $1.5m for buying the land with a promise to pay a further $6.9m after be got hold of the necessary planning permits. Tesco eventually paid Mr Karasu $13m for the land, giving Mr Karasu's consortium a $10m profit only two years after buying the land.

Tesco claims the allegations have nothing to do with the store. It told the FT, “The allegations that have surfaced in Turkey are a political matter and have nothing to do with our purchase of land or subsequent store development.”

The story comes just five months after Building exclusively revealed that poor construction of a Kipa store in Antalya, Turkey had resulted in a three-year-old girl being crushed to death when the corner of the store collapsed in September 2006.

The official explanation at the time was that the death of the young girl, Merve Tas, was the result of a tragic accident caused by a storm but the report compiled by Tesco shortly after the tragedy, and obtained by Building, revealed the Antalya store suffered from faulty design and poor construction.

Sources close to incident painted a disturbing picture of ad hoc design changes by the building team and botched construction of the 7,000m² store.