facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Ukrainian billionaire arrested in Vienna on FBI warrant

Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash was arrested in Vienna Wednesday on charges of bribery and criminal conspiracy.
By Ananth Baliga   |   March 13, 2014 at 1:52 PM   |   Comments

http://cdnph.upi.com/sv/em/i/UPI-6211394729275/2014/1/13947295607638/Ukrainian-billionaire-arrested-in-Vienna-on-FBI-warrant.jpg
VIENNA, March 13 (UPI) -- Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash, with close ties to Russia's oil and gas industry, has been arrested in Vienna, Austria, on a FBI warrant issued in 2006.

Firatsh was taken into custody Wednesday on charges of bribery and criminal conspiracy by the organized-crime unit of the Austrian police on a warrant issued by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. A criminal court in Vienna will now decide whether Firtash will stay in custody or face extradition proceedings, said Nina Bussek, a spokeswoman for the Vienna prosecutors. She also confirmed that the U.S. had applied for extradition.

Firtash is a co-owner of RosUkrEnergo AG, which was Ukraine's sole importer of Russian natural gas. He is known to be a well-paid agent of Russia, and made his fortune buying natural gas cheap and selling it to Ukraine's national gas company for a premium.

Former Prime MInister Yulia Tymoshenko accused him of creating an offshore slush fund for Gazprom -- the company at the center of Russian President Vladimir Putin's financial-political nexus. Gazprom is a major source of revenue for Russia and Firtash was generating huge profits for the company.

Many are seeing the arrest as the first move by the U.S. to put financial pressure on Russia, following the Ukrainian crisis. Russian officials and businessmen have been bracing for financial sanctions from the West, including targeting of foreign reserves, banking assets and company lending.

Firtash has been an integral part of the political drama to grip Ukraine in the past few years. After her election, Yulia Tymoshenko, who herself made a fortune from the gas business, sidelined Firtash and RosUkrEnergo AG from the gas business. This resulted in a backlash from Gazprom and resulted in the country accruing huge debts with the Russian energy giant.

In 2010, Viktor Yanukovych was elected prime minister and charged Tymoshenko with misusing her office for arranging the deal. She was only released after Yanukovych was removed from office Feb. 22.

The arrest most probably is linked to a referendum scheduled for Sunday to determine if people of the Crimean peninsula want to remain with Ukraine or secede to Russia. Russia sees the annexation of Crimea as inevitable and is making preparations to integrate the Crimeans, whereas the U.S. and other western nations have called the referendum illegitimate.

[Washington Post]
[Businessweek]

Follow @antbaliga and @UPI on Twitter.
Contact the Author
© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Navy tests MQ-8C unmanned helos Navy tests MQ-8C unmanned helos
2
Europe must drop the euro, Germany abandon mercantilism Europe must drop the euro, Germany abandon mercantilism
3
FBI arrests Google employee accused of nude photo scam FBI arrests Google employee accused of nude photo scam
4
Harris selected for geospatial data products Harris selected for geospatial data products
5
Sweden plans to replace its Defense and Security Export Agency Sweden plans to replace its Defense and Security Export Agency
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback