Ukraine oligarch faces extradition to US

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An Austrian court has ruled that one of Ukraine’s richest men, Dmytro Firtash, can be extradited to the US to face corruption charges.

The decision overturns an earlier court ruling, although the justice minister will have the final say.

Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash waits for the start of his extradition hearing at the main court in Vienna, Austria (30 April 2015)

irtash says the US has fallen for disinformation supplied by his enemies in Ukraine

The oligarch, 51, has been in Austria since 2014, when the allegations were first brought by US prosecutors.

Mr Firtash, a former ally of ousted Ukraine leader Viktor Yanukovych, says he is the victim of a smear campaign.

His gas and chemicals business thrived before Mr Yanukovych was overthrown and fled to Russia in February 2014.

‘Absolutely untrue’

Mr Firtash was indicted by a US grand jury for allegedly conspiring to pay millions of dollars in bribes to Indian officials through US banks.

A lower Austrian court ruling in May 2015 rejected the US extradition request, with the judge saying it was at least partly politically motivated.

Dmytro Firtash (R) with then President Viktor Yanukovych at an opening ceremony in Crimea (April 2012)

The billionaire business magnate had told the lower court that accusations he had plotted to bribe Indian officials to win licences to mine titanium were “absolutely untrue”.

In overturning the ruling, the Upper State Court said the final decision would be made by Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter.

Mr Firtash had been arrested in 2014 in Vienna, and posted a bail of €125m (£102m) – breaking Austrian records.

Austrian police insisted the arrest was not related to political events in Ukraine at the time.

Much of the anger behind the protests that ousted Mr Yanukovych was fuelled by perceptions of corruption, and the alleged close links between the government and oligarchs.

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