Austrian court approves extradition of Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash to Chicago

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation

Chuck Goudie Image
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash waits for the start of his hearing at the courts of justice in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A court in Austria approved Tuesday a U.S. request to extradite Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash to Chicago.

The Ukrainian industrial magnate also known as "Dmytro Firtash" was arrested in Austria in 2014 following his federal indictment in Chicago. Firtash is one of the wealthiest men in the old Eastern block and chairman of Group DF

In June 2013, Mr. Firtash and five others were charged in sealed indictments in Chicago with paying $18.5 million in bribes to Indian officials so they could mine titanium and then sell it to Boeing Corporation for use in building the 787 Dreamliner passenger jet, as reported by the I-Team.

Minutes after the hearing ended Tuesday in Vienna, the intrigue of this case continued when Firtash was arrested while waiting for an elevator in the courthouse.

He was detained by officers on an arrest warrant from Spain, according to a spokeswoman for Vienna prosecutors. Firtash was named in Spanish arrest warrants last November along with two alleged accomplices - also citizens of Ukraine - whose names were not disclosed in the money laundering investigation.

According to prosecutors in Spain, those implicated created offshore companies in Panama for Firtash, and some of the capital stayed in Spain as real estate investments-alleged crimes said to involve tens of millions of euros.

Austrian authorities say it is too early to known how the Spanish warrant will impact extradition of Firtash to Chicago in the U.S. bribery and racketeering case that he has denied.

Firtash has been in Vienna, Austria since 2014 on $174 million bail awaiting the court's ruling on extradition to the U.S. The regional court on April 30, 2015 refused to extradite Firtash to the U.S. before the extradition was approved by a higher court Tuesday.

He faces up to 50 years in prison and confiscation of all of his assets if convicted.

Firtash has been a business associate of President Trump ally Paul Manafort.

Extradition was green-lighted by the court but could still be derailed. According to legal sources in Vienna, the final go-ahead for Firtash's transfer to Chicago will have to come from Austrian Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter.

The United States attorney in Chicago released a statement saying that while it can't comment on pending extradition cases, they would, "like to extend our thanks to the government of Austria for its close cooperation on law enforcement matters."