Austrian Justice Minister OKs Firtash's Extradition To U.S., But Process Put On Hold
Austria's justice minister has approved the extradition of Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash to the United States, where he has been charged as part of an alleged bribery scheme, but his extradition was put on hold as his defense team immediately filed a court motion to reopen the case.
Clemens Jabloner's July 16 approval of the extradition came three weeks after Austria's Supreme Court upheld a decision allowing a request by the United States to extradite Firtash.
However, a Vienna state court judge ruled the extradition could only take place after that court has decided on the new defense motion. Court spokeswoman Christina Salzborn said the defense provided "extremely extensive material."
A former business associate of President Donald Trump's ex-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and one of Ukraine's wealthiest men, Firtash has been fighting against extradition since his 2014 arrest in Vienna.
Manafort is currently serving a 7 1/2-year prison sentence after being convicted of bank and tax fraud and pleading guilty to other foreign-agent registration charges.
U.S. authorities have been investigating Firtash, 54, since 2006 on suspicion of bribery and forming an organized crime group.
Specifically, Firtash was indicted in 2013 in the bribery scheme involving titanium supplies for aircraft giant Boeing and is wanted in a U.S. federal court in Chicago, where Boeing has its corporate headquarters.
Boeing is not charged in the case, although it has said that it did consider doing business with Firtash. No agreement, however, was ever signed.
Firtash has denied any wrongdoing and has said the extradition case against him is politically motivated.
A Vienna Regional Court concurred with him in an April 30, 2015, ruling that denied the U.S. extradition request, but that decision was reversed by a higher court in February 2017.
Additionally, on June 21, a federal court in Chicago refused to throw out his foreign bribery and racketeering case.
The twists in Firtash's case include being rearrested in Vienna on a Spanish warrant in February 2017, just minutes after an Austrian court cleared the way for his U.S. extradition.
Shortly after his March 2014 arrest in Vienna, Firtash posted a record bail bond of 125 million euros ($172 million) that was paid by Russian billionaire Vasily Anisimov, a business partner of Arkady Rotenberg, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
However, Firtash was barred from leaving Austria as the extradition cases moved through the courts.
A former firefighter, Firtash’s wealth stems in large part from the lucrative natural gas trade in Ukraine, whose pipelines have long served as the key conduit for Russian gas supplies heading to Western Europe.
Firtash and a Ukrainian business partner established natural-gas intermediary RosUkrEnergo with Russian state-run Gazprom in 2004 and dominated natural-gas imports to Ukraine for at least five years.
Banks reportedly close to Putin also gave Firtash loans of up to $11 billion leading up to 2014, money that he used to purchase chemical fertilizer plants in Ukraine.
U.S. authorities also have accused Firtash of ties to Russian organized crime, allegations that he denies.
No such charge appears in Firtash's indictment.
Firtash also was considered an important financier of the Party of Regions and was involved in hiring Manafort, then a U.S. political consultant and lobbyist, in 2005 to help rebuild the party after its then-leader, Viktor Yanukovych, was defeated for the presidency by Viktor Yushchenko following the 2004 Orange Revolution.
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From their digital headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, the Trump campaign placed between 70,000-175,000 different pieces of content on Facebook every day specifically targeting profiles provided from Cambridge Analytica.
Cambridge Analytica’s parent company was until recently owned by a British-Iranian businessman with ties to Putin-linked Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash who is wanted for bribery by the U.S. and was allegedly involved in a racketeering scheme with Paul Manafort.
More importantly, the way Cambridge Analytica gained access to some 30 million Facebook accounts without users’ consent, along with private voting records, raises serious privacy concerns.
The case also potentially affects the interests of another Ukrainian oligarch, Dmitry Firtash, now in exile in Austria awaiting possible extradition to the US on corruption charges that he has described as trumped up. His company, Group DF, is owed $300m by Raga, according to Mr Gorbunenko, after having partially financed the initial privatisation of Ukrtelecom in 2011.
For his mastery of political campaigning, Manafort was dubbed a “mythical figure” in the Ukrainian press, and the country’s powerbrokers still give him much of the credit for turning the pro-Russian party around. “I can tell you he’s a real specialist,” says Manafort’s friend Dmitry Firtash, the Ukrainian billionaire and former partner to the Kremlin in the European gas trade. “He won three elections in Ukraine. He knew what he was doing.”
Jared Kushner's parents were friends with Netanyahu. He has forged an alliance with Putin.
His Chief Strategist is Steve Bannon. Bannon is the CEO of Breitbart, with the Mercer family having majority ownership. The Mercers, along with Bannon are heavily involved in Cambridge Analytica a data gathering firm. Cambridge Analytica’s parent company is SCL Group, which lists Dmitry Firtash as a board member. Breitbart and Bannon have extensive ties to the far right movement in Europe which is also funded by Putin.
His second campaign manager was Paul Manafort. He had to resign in August due to having questionable Russian ties like Dmitry Firtash and the former Ukrainian President. Manafort lives in Trump tower, along with Kellyanne Conway and her husband.
Married to the Ukrainian Mob
Meet Dmytro Firtash, the shady billionaire at the heart of Russia’s energy stranglehold over Kiev.
Buried in the news of Russia’s invasion, and now annexation, of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was the second most important event to affect the new Ukrainian government last week — and it happened in Austria. On the evening of March 12, one of the most notorious Ukrainian oligarchs, Dmytro Firtash, whose fortune has been estimated at anywhere from $673 million to the tens of billions, was arrested in Vienna, right outside of one of his offices in the Margareten district. Neither he nor his bodyguards put up a struggle, according to press reports, although Group DF, the massive international holding company Firtash owns, has said in a statement that the whole thing was a "misunderstanding" which would be "resolved in the very near term."
Manafort's co-defendants were Dmitry Firtash, a Ukranian gas executive under federal indictment for bribery, and Semyon Mogelivich, identified by the Justice Department as head of a transnational criminal organization that posed a threat to U.S. national security. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2015 because Tymoshenko was unable to show the role of each defendant in the alleged money-laundering plot
Austria grants US request to extradite Ukrainian mogul Dmytro Firtash
Vienna court overturns previous decision to reject extradition on grounds it was politically motivated
Tuesday 21 February 2017 08.55 EST
An Austrian court has granted a US request to extradite Ukrainian mogul Dmytro Firtash over bribery allegations.