Kingstons hid millions in Turkey - U.S. attorneys
Two Utahn brothers accused of running a billion-dollar fraud scheme transferred millions to Turkey due to the difficulty of obtaining financial information from that country, U.S. attorneys have stated in a legal document obtained by Ahval.
Isaiah Kingston, who alongside his brother Jacob Kingston is on trial for a scheme to defraud the United States government of millions of dollars in tax refund checks, poses a significant flight risk due to the vast amounts of money he has transferred to Turkey and should be denied bail, the U.S. attorneys prosecuting his case have stated.
“This Defendant personally moved more than $52 million to Turkey, a country that has publicly announced that it will not extradite, including $483,000 apparently for payment of tax on a mansion … This is more than enough money to allow Defendant Isaiah Kingston to live an exceptionally comfortable life in Turkey,” the attorney’s statement said.
The document, prepared by a team headed by United States Attorney John W. Huber, was submitted to the U.S. District Court of Utah on Sep. 11, in response to the defendant’s request to be granted bail.
The attorneys’ response strongly opposed this request, giving details of vast amounts of money transferred to Turkey by the Kingstons in a scheme that defrauded $511 million from the U.S. government before it was discovered.
The transfers include an “astonishing” $134 million moved to Turkey by the biofuel company Washakie, which is co-owned by the Kingston brothers.
Through this company the Kingstons and their co-defendant, Lev Aslan Dermen (a.k.a. Levon Termendzhyan), filed false claims for fuel tax credits, falsifying paperwork and rotating liquid fuel around different locations and through a sister company to make it appear that Washakie had engaged in qualifying fuel production and transactions.
While the scheme netted the brothers over half a billion dollars before they were caught, they will be tried for over double that figure, having “attempted to obtain more than $1.1 billion in fraudulent renewable fuel tax refunds from 2010 through 2016,” the document states.
Isaiah Kingston was “instrumental” in concealing the proceeds of this fraud through the transfers to Turkey, the attorneys said.
It was the promise of massive investment in Turkey that brought Jacob Ortell face to face with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who he was photographed meeting in Sep. 2017.
The meeting came after Washakie, a company owned by Dermen called Noil Energy, and a Turkish partner, SBK Holding, promised to invest $950 million in Turkey.
This “investment” was made on a series of occasions as the brothers earned millions through the tax fraud scheme, according to the attorneys.
In just one transaction, Isaiah Kingston transferred $71 million of the $164 million renewable tax credit fraudulently obtained in 2014 to Turkey, the attorneys said.
“As DCIS Special Agent Wade Berrett testified at the detention hearing, it is very difficult to obtain financial information from Turkey. This, the United States submits, is precisely why Washakie, Defendant Isaiah Kingston, and Defendant Jacob Kingston selected Turkey as the primary location to conceal their fraud proceeds,” the document said.
“The United States submits that it was a calculated decision by Defendants Isaiah and Jacob Kingston and Lev Aslan Dermen, who concluded that their stolen money would be safest from United States law enforcement in Turkey,” it continued.
Furthermore, Isaiah Kingston reportedly attempted to conceal the assets in cash and real estate by giving false testimony in a sworn affidavit – another justification the attorneys give for denying his bail request.
On top of this, Isaiah Kingson – a member of a fundamentalist Mormon clan described as an “organised crime family” by a former Utah attorney general – also presents a danger to the community, the document said.
The attorneys referred to text messages written in code that they say clearly demonstrates Isaiah Kingston attempting to pay an intermediary $10,000 to bribe U.S. officials and hire an enforcer to intimidate witnesses.
The guidelines for the charges against Isaiah Kingston advise a life sentence, if the defendant is found guilty.