Turkish businessman files motion with U.S. court to dismiss Borajet extortion case
A Turkish businessman accused of using a campaign of extortion to take over an airline has filed a motion with the U.S. court overseeing his case asking for it to be dismissed.
Turkish businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz filed the motion to dismiss this month on the basis that the case against him would be more appropriately heard by a court in Turkey, where the case of the airline, Borajet, is already under litigation.
The founder of the now-defunct airline, Turkish-American businessman Yalçın Ayaslı, this year brought the Federal racketeering charges against Korkmaz. Ayaslı says Korkmaz targeted Borajet with a campaign to devalue it before pressuring him to sell the airline at a deflated cost.
To do this, Korkmaz spread rumours in Turkish media that Ayaslı and Borajet had ties to the Gülen religious movement, an outlawed group that is blamed for the July 2016 coup attempt.
Ayaslı says the media campaign was accompanied by threats and harassment by Korkmaz, who he alleges sent threatening messages to him and his employees.
Korkmaz denies the allegations against him and has launched his own lawsuit against Ayaslı in Turkey, alleging that the debt and expenses accrued by Borajet were higher than revealed during the sale.
The motion filed this month by Korkmaz’s lawyers requests that the New Hampshire court overseeing the racketeering case dismisses it “because there is a valid, mandatory forum selection provision in the sales agreement underlying this action, which provides that all actions arising out of that sale, including the allegations in the Complaint, be brought in Turkey under Turkish law.”
The motion also states that Ayaslı had previously filed litigation on the Borajet sale in a Turkish court, but that the prosecutor had dismissed the case.
Korkmaz’s name has been implicated in high-profile cases in the United States including the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when he was called to testify by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller on associates of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign who were discovered to be working for foreign states.
The Turkish businessman is also linked to the Kingstons, a Mormon family from Utah who were prosecuted this year for running a tax fraud scheme worth over $500 million. Korkmaz was photographed at a meeting with one of the brothers, Jacob Kingston, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The trial was postponed twice this summer and now set to begin on October 14th, in Utah's District Court.
Sezgin Baran Korkmaz was earlier called as a witness for the case, but later U.S. prosecutors decided they do not need his witness testimony shortly after Kingston Brothers pled guilty and expected to be taking witness seat during hearings against the Kingstons’ business partner and currently sole defendant in the fraud trial, Lev Aslan Dermen, (also known as Levon Termendzhyan).