Ukrainian oligarch linked to Trump: Chicago charges absurd

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation

Chuck Goudie Image
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Dmitry Firtash
Dmitry Firtash

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Ukrainian business tycoon with ties to both President Donald Trump and the Kremlin is asking that international racketeering and bribery charges filed against him in Chicago be thrown out.

A motion to dismiss filed Tuesday afternoon in Chicago claims that Dmitry Firtash, 51, has "never set foot" in the United States, has no business entities in the U.S. and therefore shouldn't be charged with crimes here.


The Ukrainian oligarch was indicted three years ago by a federal grand jury in Chicago on charges he plotted a bribery scheme in a $500 million titanium deal in India. Chicago-based Boeing was the potential client, although the deal-that would allegedly have yielded $18.5 million in bribes-never was consummated.

"There is no link between the United States and the conduct charged in the Indictment nor did the alleged conduct have any effect on the United States" states the motion filed Tuesday by lead Firtash attorney Dan K. Webb, a former United States Attorney in Chicago.

"The character of the activity at issue is that of alleged bribes paid outside of the United States to Indian officials. This is entirely unrelated to the United States and does not support a reasonable prosecution here" states Webb in the court filing. "Even if the government could prove that there existed a scheme to bribe Indian officials in India, the conduct does not implicate any legitimate or other United States interest."

Webb also maintains that "there is no venue in the Northern District of Illinois and a trial in this district would violate the U.S. Constitution."

According to court records, in 2008 senior Trump aide Paul Manafort's company was involved with Firtash in a plan to redevelop the famous Drake Hotel in New York City. That deal was estimated at $850 million.

Documents filed in federal court reveal that Firtash's company planned to invest more than $100 million.

Also in 2008, Firtash acknowledged to the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine that his lucrative business career began with the permission of a notorious Russian organized crime lord. That revelation is in a classified State Department cable. Other U.S. cables say oligarch Firtash became wealthy through sweetheart natural gas deals between Russia and Ukraine.

In March 2014 Firtash was arrested on the Chicago charges by authorities in Vienna, Austria. Since then, U.S. officials have attempted to have the businessman extradited. In February Firtash was hit with a new arrest warrant issued by Spanish law enforcement. That case, alleging corruption in a different business deal, has gummed up the extradition equation.

As Austrian justice officials sort through which jurisdiction should be allowed to extradite the Ukrainian oligarch, he is being restricted to Vienna on $135 million bail.

Firtash attorney Dan Webb is scheduled to present the motion to dismiss all U.S. charges in Chicago on May 17. "Put simply, the Indictment does not provide a sufficient basis on which to assert venue over Firtash in the Northern District of Illinois" says Webb. "Nor does the Indictment assert jurisdiction over Firtash in the courts of the United States...In this case, the government has not alleged, and cannot allege, a single act by Firtash in the Northern District of Illinois."