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US seeks to extradite Turkey businessman from Austria

Turkish businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, 29 December 2020 [BlueprintGreece/Twitter]
Turkish businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, 29 December 2020 [BlueprintGreece/Twitter]

The United States is seeking to extradite a Turkish businessman accused of money laundering after he was recently arrested in Austria, the Justice Department announced yesterday.

According to a statement released by the department, Sezgin Baran Korkmaz was arrested in Austria on Saturday and was indicted for "one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, 10 counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding."

Korkmaz, who owned and ran a multitude of companies in the US and his SBK Holding company in Turkey, is accused by the indictment of having "laundered over $133 million in fraud proceeds through bank accounts that he controlled in Turkey and Luxembourg."

The statement also added that the proceeds of those operations "allegedly related to a scheme by Jacob Kingston, Isaiah Kingston, and Levon Termendzhyan to defraud the US Treasury by filing false claims for over $1 billion in refundable renewable fuel tax credits for the production and sale of biodiesel by their company, Washakie Renewable Energy LLC, in Plymouth, Utah."

READ: Turkey requests extradition of 'mobster' from UAE

The department was referring to the discovery of the massive tax fraud conducted by the Utah-based Kingston brothers in 2018 which led to their arrest, as well as the discovery that Korkmaz was a key business partner of the brothers and led the money laundering operations.

Following the findings, Ankara issued an arrest warrant for Korkmaz in December last year, as scores of the businessman's associates were arrested while he was reported to have fled Turkey.

Now detained in Austria, Washington is seeking to have Korkmaz extradited to appear before US District Judge Jill Parrish of Utah. "If convicted," the statement reads, "Korkmaz faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy count, 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud counts, and five years in prison for the obstruction count."

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