The Turkish businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz was extradited from Austria and arrived in Utah on Friday to face money laundering and wire fraud charges, according to a statement from the United States Department of Justice.
Korkmaz was taken into custody by the United States Marshals Service.
According to the Justice Department, he was previously accused in Utah with laundering more than $133 million in unlawful proceeds through bank accounts he owned in Turkey and Luxembourg. The United States stated last year that it sought his extradition.
The government stated that, if convicted, Korkmaz faces a maximum of 20 years in jail on each count of money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud, and obstruction of an official process.
Washakie Renewable Energy LLC, based in Utah, is accused of filing false claims for more than $1 billion in renewable fuel tax credits for the manufacture and sale of biodiesel, according to U.S. authorities.
According to the Justice Department, Korkmaz and co-conspirators used scheme earnings to purchase the Turkish airline Borajet, hotels in Turkey and Switzerland, a yacht named the “Queen Anne,” and a villa and apartment on the Bosphorus in Istanbul.
In conjunction with Lebanon’s authorities, the U.S. Marshals Service seized the yacht “Queen Anne” in July 2021 and sold it earlier this year for $10.11 million, according an October 2021 court decision.
In June of last year, Korkmaz was arrested in Austria at the request of the Department of Justice. In Turkey, he was additionally charged with money laundering.
In addition, Turkey launched an extradition case with Austrian authorities, and in August 2021, an Austrian court determined that he be extradited to Turkey.
According to Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu, ten executives working for Korkmaz’s enterprises were detained in December after Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) claimed the companies were used for money laundering.
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