The United States and Turkey are battling over the extradition of businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, who is wanted by U.S. prosecutors for laundering $133 million in fraud proceeds.
An Austrian court will consider extradition requests from the United States and Turkey in a hearing on Monday, Agence France-Presse reported.
Prosecutors say Korkmaz conspired with individuals including U.S. businessmen Jacob and Isaiah Kingston to launder the proceeds from a tax fraud scheme, buying Turkish airline Borajet, hotels in Turkey and Switzerland, a yacht called the Queen Anne and a villa overlooking Istanbul’s Bosporus waterway. Korkmaz was arrested on June 19.
A long legal battle for Korkmaz’s extradition could strain relations between Turkey and the United States, already at a low point due to policy differences over Syria, Russia, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean.
Korkmaz says he would rather face trial in Turkey, where he is wanted for fraud and money laundering. U.S. officials are aware that the likelihood of Turkey extraditing Korkmaz to face trial in the United States is low, AFP said.
Korkmaz played a role in Turkey’s efforts to curry political favour with former U.S. President Donald Trump during his first years in the White House, AFP said citing a report from investigative group, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Korkmaz also facilitated a 2018 trip for Americans linked to Trump who attempted to secure the release of detained U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson in 2018, it said.