Egemen Bağış, Turkey’s ambassador to the Czech Republic and a former minister responsible for relations with the European Union, used a private jet belonging to businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, who has been arrested in Austria accused of taking part in a massive money-laundering scheme in the United States, Cumhuriyet columnist Tuncay Mollaveisoğlu said on Monday.
Austrian police arrested Korkmaz last week, acting on a request by the U.S. Justice Department, which is seeking his extradition. Korkmaz allegedly laundered over $133 million in fraud proceeds through bank accounts that he controlled in Turkey and Luxembourg.
Korkmaz used the money to fund an opulent lifestyle, purchasing private jets, yachts and luxury villas, U.S. prosecutors say.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also regularly made use of Korkmaz’s $54 million Bombadier jet, treating it “like a taxi”, Mollaveisoğlu said in a separate article on Friday.
Soylu’s relationship with Korkmaz has come under scrutiny after convicted crime boss Sedat Peker accused him of tipping off Korkmaz about police efforts to arrest him in December.