Turkey seeks extradition of businessman arrested in Austria

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Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has taken steps to secure the extradition of a Turkish businessman, involved in a money laundering scheme in the United States and accused of involvement in large-scale corruption in Turkey, from Austria, where he was arrested over the weekend.

Turkish Ambassador in Vienna Ozan Ceyhun announced on Sunday that a request had been made by Turkey for the extradition from Austria of Sezgin Baran Korkmaz.

Korkmaz, who was arrested in Austria on a US warrant, fled Turkey in December 2020. He is sought both by Turkey and the US.

Korkmaz’s lawyer, Volkan Dülger, said Korkmaz would appear before an Austrian court Monday afternoon and that he wants to stand trial in Turkey, where he is not likely to serve any jail time, rather than in the US, where he probably will be given a prison sentence. The lawyer said a person gets a prison sentence of between three and seven years on money laundering charges in Turkey and does not go to jail for certain types of crimes requiring a sentence of up to six years. However, this offense requires a longer prison sentence in the US. Dülger said the Austrian court will decide whether Korkmaz will be tried in the US or Turkey.

Korkmaz’s SBK Holding and its six companies are under investigation in Turkey over money laundering allegations in four provinces.

Korkmaz was business partners with Jacob and Isaiah Kingson, the executives of a Salt Lake City biodiesel company who pleaded guilty in US federal court to a $511 million tax credit scheme in March 2020.

Turkish prosecutors in December had issued a detention warrant for Korkmaz, following a joint probe by Turkey’s financial crimes unit and tax auditing authorities into an alleged $132 million money-laundering scheme in Turkey. A Turkish court issued an arrest warrant for Korkmaz in May.

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