Austria detains shady Turkish tycoon sought by US, Turkey

A shady tycoon sought by Ankara and the United States was detained in Austria, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported late on June 19. Sezgin Baran Korkmaz fled Turkey in December of last year and was being sought over money laundering.

Duvar English

A shady business tycoon sought both by Turkey and the United States over money laundering was apprehended in Austria, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported late on June 19. 

Turkish ambassador to Austria Ozan Ceyhun said that authorities are following the developments regarding the detention of Sezgin Baran Korkmaz. 

Earlier, Korkmaz's lawyers told the daily Sözcü that the U.S. asked Austrian authorities to detain the businessman and that the initial trial will be held in Austria. 

Turkish prosecutors in December of last year issued a detention warrant for Korkmaz as part of a probe into money laundering worth $132 million.

The cash in question is believed to be a part of a decade-long scheme to defraud the U.S. of at least $500 million involving Utah-based business executives Jacob Kingston and his brother Isaiah, as well as Armenian-Turkish businessman Lev Aslan Dermen.

On June 20, Ambassador Ceyhun said that Turkish authorities launched extradition processes for Korkmaz. 

"The individual in question was detained on June 19 some 260 kilometers away from Vienna. He was brought to Vienna later on. It's highly likely that he will appear in court tomorrow," Ceyhun said. 

"We launched the processes for his extradition upon our ministry's orders on June 19," he added. 

Korkmaz's name has been making headlines in Turkey for the past couple of weeks. Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker on June 6 accused Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu of tipping off Korkmaz to flee Turkey. 

According to Peker, Korkmaz and Soylu had a meeting in the interior ministry on Dec. 4, 2020 and that's where the businessman was tipped off about a probe launched into him. Korkmaz fled Turkey the next day. 

The controversy ensued after Korkmaz revealed that a pro-government journalist called him and asked for 10 million euros in exchange for talking to "lobbies" to lift the accusations against him. 

Korkmaz claimed that Veyis Ateş called him and wanted to act as an intermediary between Soylu and himself and shared the phone conversation in question with various journalists.