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Turkish Authorities Search For Suspect In US Tax Fraud Scheme

Turkish prosecutors have issued a detention warrant for Turkish businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, who has ties to Utah business executives who recently pleaded guilty to a $511 million tax credit scheme in the U.S., the Associated Press (AP) reported.

According to Anadolu Agency, Turkey’s state-run news agency, prosecutors issued the warrant after a joint probe by Turkish financial crime investigators and tax authorities into a reported $132 million money laundering scheme in Turkey, the AP reported.

Warrants were issued for directors of 19 companies owned by Korkmaz, with 10 of them detained for questioning in Istanbul and three other cities, Anadolu reported, per the AP. Korkmaz owned SBK Holding, which owned the now-defunct Borajet airline and other companies.

However, Korkmaz has allegedly left the country with seven other suspects, according to the AP, despite a travel ban, and there is no information available on his current whereabouts. In Utah, Korkmaz worked with Jacob and Isaiah Kingston, brothers and executives of a Salt Lake City-based biodiesel company.

The Kingstons pleaded guilty in the tax credit scheme in the U.S., which involved the Washakie Renewable Energy company. The U.S. claimed the company was creating fake production records between 2010 and 2016 in order to access renewable fuel tax credits, which it would then launder, the AP reported.

According to Turkey’s private DHA news agency, Korkmaz’s home was raided, and investigators found a burnt phone that had been attempted to be destroyed in a fireplace, the AP reported. Servers belonging to SBK Holding were missing.

PYMNTS reported this month that corporate fraud schemes have been ubiquitous as of late. Many of them involve business email compromise (BEC) scams, while some target the vaccine distribution chain. There are also 2.3 percent more financial crimes in areas where corporate accounting fraud has been reported. There was also a connection made between corporate fraud and local financial crimes like robberies.

Also this month, the U.S. Senate passed new anti-money laundering (AML) laws, which would make companies report their beneficial owners to government authorities and promote more information sharing between regulators.

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