Austrian court rules to keep fugitive Turkish businessman in detention

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An Austrian court on Monday ruled to keep in detention a Turkish businessman involved in a money-laundering scheme in the United States and accused of involvement in large-scale corruption in Turkey, the Demirören news agency reported.

The court in the Austrian city of Wels rejected a plea from Sezgin Baran Korkmaz for his release on the grounds that he posed a flight risk or could tamper with evidence.

Korkmaz, who was arrested in Austria on a US warrant on July 19, fled Turkey in December 2020. He is sought both by Turkey and the US.

The Austrian court will make a decision about his extradition at a hearing scheduled for Aug. 5 and is awaiting documents related to his case from the United States. The court will also examine documents sent by Turkey, which also officially demanded the businessman’s extradition.

Korkmaz is accused of laundering over $133 million in fraud proceeds through his bank accounts, according to the US indictment against him, which refers to his ties to Jacob Kingston, Isaiah Kingston and Levon Termendzhyan and alleges that he devised a scheme to defraud the Kingston brothers by falsely representing that he could provide them with protection, through unnamed government officials, from a federal grand jury investigation and civil lawsuits.

Korkmaz was business partners with the Kingstons, 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.

American prosecutors want him tried in the US. Speaking from jail to a Turkish reporter, Korkmaz said he would rather face justice at home, where he is also wanted for money laundering and fraud.

The businessman has denied the claims against him.

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