Spain's Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's office accuses Firtash of money laundering
Ukraine's gas magnate Dmytro Firtash has been put on the international wanted list by the Spanish authorities.
The country's Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's office accuses Firtash of establishing a major network of money laundering with the epicenter in Catalonia, the Spanish daily El Pais reports referring to its own police sources.
Ukrainian oligarch, and once a close confidant of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, was declared wanted together with his two associates, also citizens of Ukraine, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
According to El Pais, the day before Spanish police arrested five other people linked to Firtash. Among them is a famous Spanish lawyer Antonio de Fortuny, who is accused of participating in the registration of the companies involved in the money laundering. The rest are two bank employees and two lawyers.
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 goes into tens millions of euro of laundered money.
Investigation into Firtash's activities was launched as a part of the "Operation Variola" started by the Spanish authorities in July this year. Then 12 people were arrested in Barcelona and the Costa Brava, including Stepan Chernovetsky - a son of the former Kyiv Major Leonid Chernovetsky.
Stepan Chernovetsky was later released, but he is still under investigation.
Spanish authorities are not the first ones who have been attempting to extradite one of Ukraine's most influential billionaires.
In May 2015 an Austrian court refused to extradite Firtash to the US, accepting his argument that political motivations lay behind the efforts to try him on corruption charges.