CHICAGO (WLS) -- A key member of the legal team for a wealthy Ukrainian industrialist indicted in Chicago is pushing back at congressional calls to bring the oligarch to the United States to face federal charges.
The ABC7 I-Team has been looking into Dmitry Firtash's Chicago criminal case since 2014.
"The big mystery, which I get asked all the time, why would a U.S. prosecutor indict a Ukrainian citizen on a deal that never happened in India when this Ukrainian citizen has never been to the United States, never done business in the United States. Never been to Chicago. It's a mystery," said Lanny Davis, one of the lawyers advising Firtash.
Davis spoke to the I-Team after four members of Congress asked U.S. officials to get moving on extradition proceedings. Davis contends there is no case to be made against Firtash, whose legal defense is led by Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney in Chicago.
"He didn't pay any bribes. He's not even charged with paying bribes. He's charged with a scheme to bribe, involving a transaction in India, that never happened," said Davis, a well-known and politically astute Washington D.C. attorney who has worked for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Firtash, a natural gas magnate, is charged in a scheme to bribe in an alleged titanium deal in India -- a deal that never went anywhere, according to the indictment. The I-Team has reported that the metal was to be used to build planes for Chicago-based Boeing. The aerospace giant has not been implicated in the case.
Davis insists Firtash never paid any bribes. "He's not even charged with paying bribes. He's charged with a scheme to bribe, involving a transaction in India-that never happened."
Since his arrest during a 2014 trip to Austria, Firtash has been fighting extradition to Chicago, maintaining the case here is thin and the charges motivated by Ukrainian politics.
"No political motivation should enter into a law enforcement decision. That's a provision of the treaty that we in America insist on because we want to protect people from being extradited if another country has political motivation," said Davis.
A month ago, four top members of Congress asked US officials to get the extradition going, stating, "Firtash secured his wealth and influence through corruption and control of up to 70 percent of Ukraine's gas industry."
The congressmen, including Chicago Democrat Mike Quigley, wrote, "We are concerned that Mr. Firtash has used his considerable wealth and malign influence to subvert that country's legal system."
"This is a process obviously that we're going to continue to push for," Rep. Quigley said.
"All four members of Congress who represent a Ukrainian caucus in the House and presumably Ukrainian Americans, simply got their facts wrong," said Davis.
The current federal prosecutor in Chicago declined comment as both sides await a final decision from Austria on extradition.
Lawyer for Dmitry Firtash calls US bribe plot charges for deal never happened 'the big mystery'
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