Austria rejects US extradition of Ukrainian oligarch

GMT 23:09 2015 Thursday ,30 April

Arab Today, arab today Austria rejects US extradition of Ukrainian oligarch

Dmytro Firtash, one of Ukraine's most influential oligarchs
Vienna - AFP

An Austrian court on Thursday rejected a US request to extradite Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash on charges of bribing officials in India.

Firtash, 49, one of Ukraine's richest men and previously a supporter of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, was arrested in Austria in March 2014.

He was freed on bail 10 days later for 125 million euros ($139 million), a record for Austria, but has had to stay in the country.

US authorities want him extradited to face charges that he and five others paid $18.5 million in bribes to Indian officials to secure titanium mining licences in 2006.

Firtash has rejected the charges and maintained they are politically motivated.

Presiding judge Christoph Bauer said there was "no political influence" over the decision which "was taken on a legal and factual basis".

Firtash owns Group DF, a business empire involved in energy, chemicals, media, banking and property in Ukraine and other countries including Germany, Italy and Austria.

He made his fortune importing gas to Ukraine from Russia and Central Asia via his group Rosukrenergo, since disbanded, in collaboration with Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Having backed the 2010 election campaign of Yanukovych, Firtash was able to expand his business interests, acquiring chemicals and fertiliser factories as well as TV channel Inter.

The Russian-backed Yanukovych was ousted in protests in February 2014, and Firtash's arrest in Austria came soon afterwards, although officials deny any link.


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