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HomeTop Stories On TurkeySezgin Baran Korkmaz: The Rags-to-Riches Global Money Launderer of Turkey

Sezgin Baran Korkmaz: The Rags-to-Riches Global Money Launderer of Turkey

There is not a single day when we do not hear something new in Erdogan’s Turkey. It has been a long time since we stopped talking about today’s Turkey being a democratic state governed by democratic institutions as per the rule of law. It is sad but true. True to the essence of the Turkish proverb, “The rich man’s wealth tires the poor man’s jaw,” people of Turkey nowadays mostly talk about how much and in which way Erdogan and his party members joined by their relatives have been stealing from the national resources and the future of the county and why nothing happens to these corrupt politicians at all after every single case normally enough to topple any government by itself in other countries.  

Ali Bulac, a prominent Turkish journalist and sociologist, wrote “Erdogan’s regime is the second catastrophic event happened to Turkey after the Turkish National Struggle for Independence” years back before the crucial economic and political fallout started in Turkey. After that comment, most people termed it as a sheer exaggeration originating from political and ideological differences, even though Bulac belonged to the same ideological roots that had nurtured Erdogan and his key cadres back in 1970s. However, today’s event proved that Ali Bulac was ‘extremely wrong’ in this case and showed that Erdogan’s regime is the biggest catastrophe that has ever struck Turkey, while the consequences vis-à-vis the collapse of the Erdogan regime are most likely going to be more radical and destructive than any event that had happened in the history of the Republic of Turkey.

Sedat Peker, a mafia boss who once was one of the staunchest allies of the Erdogan regime but departed ways with the man and his officials almost a year ago, quite recently began confessing the criminal activities of the Erdogan regime on the YouTube and Twitter. Honestly, he only quotes and discloses the information which would never hurt him back and so does not risk his position at all. His confessions are not fully something new; yet, he stands to have provided more details of the renowned events to place the Erdogan regime on the knife’s edge and make the regime’s stooges kneel in front of him, asking for respite. Most of things he confesses/has been confessing are still ‘sugar-coated’ and the truths are ‘kept in shadow’. He still addresses Erdogan with his first name and adding the honorific abi that denotes an elder brother and never provides any detail about the most tragic event of the modern Turkey, the July 15 failed-coup attempt. A couple of Peker’s critical disclosures are as follows:-

Sezgin Baran Korkmaz: The Rags-to-Riches Global Money Launderer

While making a number of critical disclosures and providing more details on the events and topics that turn the limelight on the dramatis personae and the settings, Sedat Peker has also breached the house of cards named Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, the founder and the CEO of the SBK Holding. SBK Holding described itself as “an entity with people and trust as its common product, investing in leading companies that add value to economy in several sectors of Turkey and the world from health to tourism…” at its corporate website. Is the cyberspace façade of the holding true to its real operations? Of course, not. Emre Uslu, a prominent Turkish academic and journalist, had written about Sezgin Baran Korkmaz on the Twitter first on September 3, 2018. Mr. Uslu had posted “Sezgin Baran Korkmaz could be the second Reza Zarrab up-and-coming in the United States to the detriment of Turkey” in his tweets.

Since then, Sezgin Baran Korkmaz was visibly active in the United States in the guise of an international investor who in fact worked to smuggle the cash hoarded by the Kingston Brothers, the owners of the Utah-based Washakie Renewable Energy (WRE) company. The Kingston Brothers pled guilty to a $470-million fraud of the US government biofuel program, which lasted nearly a decade. Kingston brothers were arrested in 2018 after a long FBI probe and, in light of this investigation, Sezgin Baran Korkmaz’s SBK Holding and some other Turkish businessperson had been under the surveillance and have been wanted by the United States since then.

Sezgin Baran Korkmaz has been the lynchpin who smuggled the deposits of the US tax payers from the United States to Turkey by helping the Kingston brothers to launder their fraud money overseas in various existing or fake enterprises. Before their arrest, the Kingston brothers were even received by Turkish President Erdogan himself in Turkey. In one of the TV news talk shows, Sezgin Baran Korkmaz had said, “I requested from His Excellency President to meet the Kingston brothers for 15 minutes and he consented. You know what, that meeting lasted for an hour and 15 minutes!”

Kingston Brothers, Sezgin Baran Korkmaz and Recep Tayyip Erdogan

In the wake of the tumultuous developments in Turkey, a bunch of bold social media users in Turkey and elsewhere made fun of this photo and wrote, ‘Three out of four people in this snapshot are under the US custody and one waits for his turn.’ This is not something new for the Turkish public. Erdogan lent his image to many snapshots with various shady characters and criminals and it is no surprise if any similar image hits the news.

Sezgin Baran Korkmaz and Ekim Alptekin were on highlights when a small group of high-level Turkish officials had met former US general Mike Flynn on September 19, 2016 to finalize the prospective abduction of Fethullah Gulen. Mevlut Cavusoglu, the incumbent Turkish Foreign Minister, and Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s currently-estranged son-in-law who had also been a cabinet minister at that time offered to Flynn $15 million for Gulen’s abduction from his Pennsylvania compound on a private jet. When money and private jets are uttered in the same sentence, people in Turkey cannot help but remember the names of Baran Korkmaz and his close friend Ekim Alptekin who have both been indicted as guilty and are wanted in the United States.

Sezgin Baran Korkmaz was arrested in Austria quite recently and is most likely subjected to the transfer process under the criminal exchange agreement with the United States Department of Justice on charges of defrauding the US taxation system and laundering money in third countries. According to a number of Turkish critics, the Sezgin Baran Korkmaz case is far worse in intensity and scope than the Reza Zarrab case, because Korkmaz defrauded the United States but Zarrab just helped Iran to evade the US-backed sanctions.” Reza Zarrab was placed under protection for his keenness to become an informer; when Sezgin Baran Korkmaz requested the same favour from the arresting officials, he was refused. All these events directly link to Erdogan and his regime. It does not matter if Erdogan demanded Google to remove his photo with the Kingston brothers from the search results, he would not be able to wash his hands from the filthy dealings and make good his escape.

Korkmaz Karaca: The Pimp of the Erdogan Regime

Recently, Sedat Peker confessed on a captivating episode that succeeded in attracting the Turkish public opinion’s attention at large, possibly due to the essence of smut in the confessional. Peker shared a collection of social media posts on how the Erdogan regime had set up Deniz Baykal, former Chairman of the CHP (Republican People’s Party) and the Leader of the Opposition, to end his political career through the machinations of Korkmaz Karaca, currently a member of the Economy Policies Council of Turkey under the Office of the President. Sedat Peker’s claims came with ample zing to provide penetrating sight into what we had known about the scandal that led to Deniz Baykal’s paralysis in his physique and politics. Initially, Korkmaz Karaca was an ‘advisor’ to Deniz Baykal and, as Peker shared in his post, “he used to solicit women for Baykal.” Unfortunately, the Hizmet Movement had been slandered and scapegoated for the tape scandal that led to Deniz Baykal’s downfall. Almost everyone agreed over those slanders and a prominently successful police officer was purposefully and unwarrantedly charged with that crime, released only when he lost his life in the prison. Today, it is crystal clear that Baykal was set up by Korkmaz Karaca who is currently an advisor to President Erdogan.

Korkmaz Karaca
Korkmaz Karaca with Turkish Politicians

Following Peker’s confession, similar other once-concealed relationships between Korkmaz Karaca and several public figures came to light, triggering the Turkish public opinion intensively discuss this issue on the social media. Some flouted conventions by posting judgments like “Smut Republic of Turkey”, “Narcos and XXX”, “Government officials and money launderers are in bed with procurers and pimps”, “While actions last, it is the public that mostly suffers”, and so on. Many political commentators used to think Erdogan defeated his opponents by his resourceful and hard-hitting politics so far. It shows this has not been the case as he disqualified many opponents with sex tapes as well.

Sedat Peker continues his confessions, giving his millions-strong YouTube and Twitter audience something new to read, hear, and watch almost every day. While nothing seems to be chinking the armor of the powers that be in Turkey, no one denies the allegations made by Sedat Peker either. No more out of the mouths of babes, but of the mouths of angry mob bosses, come gems in today’s Turkey.

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Engin Yigit is a Politurco columnist, activist, and author. Follow him at @enginyigtt.


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