Turkish gov’t linked businessman Korkmaz extradited to Utah from Austria
Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, a Turkish businessman wanted for defrauding the U.S. Treasury and money laundering, has arrived in the United States after he was extradited from Austria, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Friday.
Korkmaz landed in Utah in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, the department said. The businessman is indicted with laundering more than $133 million through bank accounts in Turkey and Luxembourg, related to a scheme by U.S. businessmen brothers Jacob and Isaiah Kingston to claim tax credits for the production and sale of biodiesel by their company Washakie Renewable Energy LLC.
The proceeds were allegedly used to purchase Turkish charter airline Borajet, a yacht named the Queen Anne, and a luxury a hotel, villa and apartment in Turkey.
The businessman was arrested in Austria in June 2021 at the request of the United States. Both Turkey and the United States had requested Korkmaz’s extradition, and the Austrian court had accepted both of them. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice decided to extradite him to the United States.
Korkmaz, often referred to by his initials SBK, has close ties to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the AKP government, and the party’s allies. He had told the Austrian courts via his lawyers that he would prefer to face trial in Turkey while under arrest there.
The Kingstons and Levon Termendzhyan, also known as Levon Dermen who is a Turkish-speaking Armenian, pleaded guilty and were convicted of all charges, and they are waiting for sentencing still.
If convicted, Korkmaz would also face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud, and obstruction of an official proceeding. Turkish prosecutors on the other hand demand 46 years in prison in total.
A detailed account of the case against SBK can be found here.