The special prosecutor investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has subpoenaed an associate of Gen. Michael Flynn’s Turkish lobbying client. The subpoena, a copy of which was obtained by ProPublica, ordered Sezgin Baran Korkmaz to testify before a grand jury in Washington on Sept. 22.
“The grand jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act, among other offenses,” a letter accompanying the subpoena stated. The letter is signed by Robert Mueller and Zainab Ahmad, a senior assistant special counsel who specializes in prosecuting terrorism. Korkmaz did not respond to requests for comment.
There are no indications of direct links between Korkmaz and Flynn, who briefly served as Donald Trump’s national security adviser. But Korkmaz, 39, is a close ally of Ekim Alptekin, the 40-year-old Turkish businessman who hired Flynn to lobby for Turkish interests shortly before the election. Korkmaz, a Turkish national, said in a radio interview in May that he started as a dishwasher at age 13 and is now bringing hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. to Turkey. His company invests in a range of industries in Turkey, the Middle East, the U.S. and Russia, and he has invested in several projects that involve people accused or convicted of crimes.
Some of Korkmaz’s colleagues and investing partners have come under scrutiny — or worse — by criminal authorities. The U.S. sister company of Korkmaz’s operation, known as SBK Holdings USA, is led by Levon Termendzhyan, a Russian fuel trader with a long rap sheet, according to court records. Termendzhyan has been charged with, but found not guilty of, tax fraud and armed assault. He was convicted of battery in 2013.
Since 2013, Korkmaz’s SBK has managed $500 million of investments in Turkey from another of Termendzhyan’s companies and from a third American company called Washakie Renewable Energy. The latter is part of a conglomerate controlled by the Kingston Group, a fundamentalist Mormon clan.
In 2011, Utah’s then-attorney general called the Kingstons an “organized crime family.” Washakie paid a $3 million fine in 2015 to settle allegations that its biofuels plant collected federal subsidies while failing to produce. In February 2016, federal agents with the Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Homeland Security raided some of the family’s company offices. The investigation has not resulted in any charges.
In a radio interview, Korkmaz said he convinced the Kingstons to invest in Turkey, and Alptekin is on the board of a Kingston entity that invests in Turkey. Kingston Group did not respond to requests for comment.