Player in huge Box Elder County energy scam extradited Friday from overseas

File photo: UPI

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 16, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — A Turkish businessman has been extradited from Austria on federal charges for his part in an energy scam involving a Utah biodiesel firm in Plymouth, in northern Box Elder County.

Sezgin Baran Korkmaz arrived Friday in Utah in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, indicted on money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction charges, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah.

The indictments in Salt Lake City accuse Korkmaz of laundering more than $133 million in illegal proceeds through bank accounts he controlled in Turkey and Luxembourg.

The proceeds relate to a scheme detailed in charging documents that was orchestrated in Plymouth, by Jacob Kingston, Isaiah Kingston and Levon Termendzhyan to defraud the U.S. Treasury, the release said. They await sentencing for filing false claims for more than $1 billion in tax credits allegedly for the production and sale of biodiesel by their company, Washakie Renewable Energy LLC.

Korkmaz also allegedly defrauded his fellow defendants, the Kingston brothers. In early 2018 he falsely represented he could provide them with protection, the release said, through unnamed government officials, from a federal grand jury investigation and civil lawsuits. In exchange, the Kingstons sent him $6 million over several months.

In July 2019 Jacob and Isaiah Kingston both pleaded guilty to federal charges, and in 2020 both men testified at the trial of Levon Termendzhyan in Utah. The federal jury convicted Termendzhyan of all charges. The Kingstons and Termendzhyan all await sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins for the District of Utah said “We commend our partners from the Department of Justice for pursuing Sezgin Baran Korkmaz on behalf of the American taxpayers and ensuring his return to Utah to face justice in U.S. District Court.”

She also lauded the efforts of U.S. foreign partners in Lebanon and Austria “and in particular, the Austrian Bundeskriminalamt Fugitive Active Search Team, for locating Korkmaz overseas.”

Additionally, Korkmaz allegedly made false statements to federal agents in an attempt to obstruct the pending criminal trial against his co-defendants. Among other misstatements, Korkmaz allegedly lied about $38 million in wire transfers sent to a bank account controlled by Termendzhyan.


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