Turkish man arrested in Austria on charges connected with Utah biodiesel tax fraud case
A Turkish businessman was arrested in Austria on June 19, at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice. This arrest followed a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City, Utah, on April 28, which was unsealed June 21. The superseding indictment charged Sezgin Baran Korkmaz with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, 10 counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding.
According to the superseding indictment, Korkmaz laundered more than $133 million in fraud proceeds through bank accounts that he controlled in Turkey and Luxembourg. The proceeds allegedly related to a scheme by Jacob Kingston, Isaiah Kingston, and Levon Termendzhyan to defraud the U.S. Treasury by filing false claims for more than $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.
Korkmaz and his co-conspirators allegedly used proceeds from the fraud to acquire the Turkish airline Borajet, hotels in Turkey and Switzerland, a yacht named the Queen Anne, and a villa and apartment on the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul.
The indictment further charges Korkmaz with 10 counts of wire fraud. As alleged, Korkmaz devised a scheme to defraud Jacob Kingston and Isaiah Kingston by falsely representing that he could provide them with protection, through unnamed government officials, from a federal grand jury investigation and civil lawsuits.
The U.S. government will seek to extradite Korkmaz to the United States so that he can appear before U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish of the District of Utah to face these charges. If convicted, 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. Judge Parrish will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.