Dmitry Firtash: Paul Manafort's Ukraine Connection To Be Extradited

Critics of the Trump administration have pointed to Firtash's one-time relationship with Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort as evidence of a cozy relationship between the White House and Russian Federation.

An Austrian court has ruled that one of Ukraine's richest men, Dmytro Firtash, should be extradited to the U.S. to face corruption charges.

In a higher court on Tuesday, however, the judge said the U.S. had provided further evidence to strengthen its case, and insisted Mr Firtash would receive a fair trial if Austria extradited him. However, he was forced to remain in the country until the appeal ruling.

Firtash - Ukraine's 16th richest man with estimated wealth of $251 million as of 2016 - is the co-owner of RosUkrEnergo, a Swiss-registered company that transports natural gas from Central Asia to Eastern European countries.

He was arrested in 2014 in Vienna, and posted a bail of €125m (£102m) - breaking Austrian records.

Firtash is also wanted by Spanish authorities on suspicion of links to organized crimes and laundering over 10 million euros. Manafort also advised Yanukovych during a re-election bid.

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USA prosecutors, in 2015 court filings, submitted wiretaps they said demonstrated Firtash's involvement with organized crime.

Firtash was arrested in Vienna on an Federal Bureau of Investigation warrant just weeks after Yanukovych fled to Russian Federation and was succeeded by a vocally pro-Western government.

Austrian Judge Christoph Bauer suggested in 2015 that the extradition request for Firtash was linked to attempts to weaken Yanukovych by stripping him of a key ally.

The Austrian justice ministry must still make a final decision about sending Firtash to the United States, where his case is pending in a district court in Chicago.

USA prosecutors are seeking Firtash, a one-time ally of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, on allegations he led a conspiracy to pay $18.5 million to Indian officials to facilitate a mining project there. The titanium was supposedly to be sold to Boeing, the American aircraft manufacturer. He denied the charges, calling them politically motivated by the United States. "Mr. Firtash, a Ukrainian, is charged concerning a project in India that was never completed - a project entirely outside of the Unites States that had no effect on the United States and in which the United States has no legitimate interest".

  • Desiree Holland