U.S. seeks to extradite Turkish businessman over fraud charges


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will seek to extradite a Turkish businessman from Austria so he can appear before a U.S. judge in Utah, where he is facing charges of conspiring to commit money laundering and wire fraud, the U.S. Justice Department said on Monday.

According to a superseding indictment, Sezgin Baran Korkmaz laundered more than $133 million in fraud proceeds through bank accounts that he controlled in Turkey and Luxembourg, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Korkmaz, it said, was arrested in Austria on Saturday at the department's request following the unsealing of the indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of an official proceeding.

The fraud proceeds, it said, allegedly stemmed from a scheme involving the filing of false claims for more than $1 billion in refundable renewable fuel tax credits for the production and sale of biodiesel by a Utah-based firm, Washakie Renewable Energy LLC.

Korkmaz and co-conspirators allegedly used the proceeds from the alleged scheme to buy the Turkish airline Borajet, hotels in Turkey and Switzerland, a yacht named the Queen Anne and a villa and an apartment on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, the statement said.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Jonathan Landay; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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