Austrian court approves extradition of Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash

The court ordered his extradition to the United States on chrages of bribery and other offenses.

Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash was detained in Vienna on a European arrest warrant, a spokeswoman for Vienna's prosecutors said on Tuesday, minutes after an Austrian court chose to extradite Firtash to the United States.

"It wasn't for us to judge whether Mr. Firtash was guilty, but only whether the extradition is allowed", Austrian Judge Leo Levnaic-Iwanski was quoted.

Dmytro Firtash, a billionaire who made a fortune as a middleman in Ukraine's rough-and-tumble gas industry, has been indicted by USA prosecutors for allegedly bribing Indian officials to secure a titanium deal. The final decision to send Firtash to the United States will be made by the Austrian Ministry of Justice.

She gave no details but told the Austria Press Agency that the timing had nothing to do with the Austrian court decision.

Arrested a year later in Vienna, he posted bail of 125 million euros (more than $130 million) shortly afterward, leaving him free but unable to leave Austria. Instead, she said, it was triggered by the receipt of "supplementary information from Spanish authorities".

Firtash wielded significant political power in Ukraine under former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was overthrown by street protests in 2014.

An Austrian judge rejected the initial extradition request, saying it appeared to be a USA effort to remove an ally of Mr Yanovych, who had been overthrown in a revolution the previous month, from Ukrainian politics.

Mr Manafort at the time was working as a consultant and lobbyist for Mr Yanukovych, who was putting together his ultimately successful campaign for Ukraine's 2010 presidential election.

The court stressed that its ruling did not imply that Firtash was guilty of any crime. Firtash has been a business associate of President Trump ally Paul Manafort.

  • Leroy Wright