Picture emerges linking Mormons, gangsters, Mueller and Erdogan
A photograph of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has brought to light a string of connections stretching from fundamentalist Mormons from Utah to the Mueller investigation, Nate Carlisle of the Salt Lake Tribune reported on Monday.
Erdoğan met with one of the two U.S. businessmen arrested as they prepared to board a private plant to Turkey last week for a $511 million fraudulent tax credit scheme, said the Tribune’s piece.
Erdoğan was photographed meeting Jacob Ortell Kingston, one of two brothers accused of fraudulently claiming $511 million in tax credits from the U.S. treasury after falsifying documentation to show that their company had been manufacturing biofuels.
This, Carlisle reported, is just one of a host of “peculiar connections” linking Jacob and his brother Isaiah Kingston to shady business in Turkey and the United States that leads all the way to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into U.S. President Donald Trump.
The Kingston brothers, who hail from a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon clan described by a former Utah attorney general as an “organised crime family” and by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group,” were arrested on Aug. 23 in Los Angeles airport.
The Tribune describes the third man named in the indictment, Russian Businessman Lev Aslan Dermen (aka Levon Termendzhyan), as “accused of leading a criminal organization in Southern California that used a corrupt Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent to sneak someone into the United States.”
Last October, Los Angeles real estate news site The Real Deal reported that Dermen was “under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for money laundering, tax evasion and stolen petroleum,” and had been charged with tax fraud and armed assault.
The charges in the indictment also include laundering $11.2 million, an amount that came from a California-based firm owned by Jacob Kingston and Dermen named SBK Holdings USA Inc.
It is this company that leads to another of the men in the photograph with Erdoğan – Turkish businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz – and to another string of connections leading to vast transfers of cash to Turkey on the one hand and the Mueller investigation on the other.
Korkmaz owns the Turkish SBK holdings company, which commands “a diverse portfolio of real estate, pharmaceuticals, financial services, energy and a failed airline called BoraJet,” the Salt Lake Tribune quoted court documents as saying.
This portfolio includes business interests in Russia, where Korkmaz was in talks to enter a deal worth close to a billion dollars with President Vladimir Putin.
Korkmaz had already signed an agreement to provide $850 million in financing for a project to connect the Crimean Peninsula with Russia, but the deal eventually went to a childhood friend of Putin’s, the ProPublica news site reported last September.
In 2016, days after Jacob Kingston testified in court that he no longer had any interests in Turkey, a Turkish government agency announced that the Kingston brothers’ company Washakie, SBK and a company owned by Dermen called Noil Energy Group had made plans to invest $950 million in Turkey.
Moreover, court documents reportedly show that as much as $130 million was wired to SBK in Turkey during the tax credit scheme. Jacob Kingston has confirmed that the brothers invested in the company after meeting with Korkmaz, who called the pair his “Mormon patrons.”
Local press in Turkey reports that Dermen has already purchased a large estate in the country, and plans to complement it with the purchase of a hotel valued at $650 million.
However, it was back in the United States and through a separate connection that Korkmaz’s name would be linked to an investigation into the highest offices of the country.
Last year, Korkmaz was subpoenaed by the special prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election due to his connection to Ekim Alptekin, who employed U.S. President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to lobby for Turkey, ProPublica reported.
“The grand jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act, among other offenses,” the news site quoted a letter attached to the subpoena as saying.
Investigators discovered that Flynn had accepted over $500,000 from Alptekin to investigate ways to extradite Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist cleric whose movement the Turkish government says planned the 2016 coup attempt.
Mueller’s interest in Korkmaz may stemmed from a desire to discover the source of the funds paid to Flynn, according to ProPublica. A spokesperson for Korkmaz “slammed” the report and dismissed suggestions that they had a business relationship, Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported.
The case against the Kingston brothers is already linked to two sitting presidents, but there may be more revelations yet to come, wrote Carlisle for the Tribune.