10:39 Nov. 30, 2016
Ukrainian tycoon and close confidant of fugitive ex-president Yanukovych is wanted for money laundering
Austrian authorities have received an extradition request regarding the Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash to Spain, which had earlier placed him on an international wanted list, Deutsche Welle reports citing a press secretary of the Vienna prosecutor's office.
The request was sent through official channels and is now being processed according to Deutsche Welle. According to the procedure, if the prosecutor finds no circumstances that contradict the extradition of the suspect, the case will go to trial. In case of a positive court ruling, the Austrian Ministry of Justice will have a final say.
Firtash was put on the international wanted list by the Spanish authorities on November 24 along with his two alleged accomplices – also citizens of Ukraine.
The country's Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's office accuses Firtash of establishing a major network of money laundering centalised in Catalonia. Last week the Spanish law enforcers also arrested five other suspected accomplices of Firtash.
Prosecutor's office believes these people founded a number of offshore companies in Panama, while a part of the laundered capital ended up in Spain and was invested in real estate and restaurants. Sources say it is tens of millions of euro of laundered money.
"We are aware of the reports in the Spanish media about our client, Mr. Firtash. He categorically denies the accusations voiced," Austrian lawyers of the Ukrainian oligarch responded to the DW request.
A representative of Firtash did not comment on whether the billionaire was still in Vienna. After a positive decision of the court last year, authorities returned Firtash's passport and a EUR 125 million bail. Firtash only needs to report to the local law enforcers from time to time.
The oligarch has not so many options to hide – more than a hundred countries around the world are closed for him as they have signed extradition treaties with the United States and Spain. In Ukraine, Firtash also faces arrest, which has repeatedly been stated by Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov. Among the countries where he might travel is Russia.