Chicago's least wanted suspect?

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation

Chuck Goudie Image
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Chicago's least wanted suspect?
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A story that first read like James Bond is turning out more like Mission Impossible.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A story that first read like James Bond is turning out more like Mission Impossible.

The federal bribery case against Dmitry Firtash hasn't moved forward since the day he was arrested in Europe two-and-a-half years ago.

It seems as though Dmitry Firtash is Chicago's least wanted criminal suspect. One year and one day have passed since any legal papers have been filed here in Chicago.

American officials claim to be working for the billionaire's extradition to Chicago, while the man known as an oligarch in his home nation of Ukraine is essentially in forced exile in Austria on $174 million bail.

"The accusations levelled against me in the recent public statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice are completely absurd and unfounded. I am sure that all of these false allegations will be dismissed," Firtash said.

On videos from his company and Ukrainian television Dmitry Firtash has denied doing anything wrong.

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.

Firtash - the alleged leader of the scheme - faces up to 50 years in prison and confiscation of his huge personal wealth.

He has been button-holed in Austria since April 2014, when the indictments were unsealed in Chicago and U.S. authorities began extradition proceedings.

He contends the prosecution is politically-motivated by U.S. interests in a democratic, non-Russian Ukraine.

The Ukrainian industrial magnate is awaiting another court hearing in Vienna, "after a first ruling in April 2015 determined the the U.S. extradition request to be politically motivated and thus rejected it," Firtash spokesman Daniel Kapp said. "A date for the second hearing is yet to be determined," Kapp told the I-Team on Tuesday morning.

In August, Austria's Constitutional Court refused to consider Firtash's request to rule the extradition agreement between Austria and the U.S. unconstitutional. That means the court of appeals may consider the prosecutor's appeal of a lower court decision to block Firtash's extradition to the United States.

Firtash has political and business connections to both Russian President Vladimir Putin and to former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

An unrelated lawsuit filed in New York in 2011 actually names both Firtash and Manafort as defendants in a complaint filed by a former Ukrainian prime minister. The suit concerns an $895 million New York real estate deal that Manafort and his business partners, including Firtash, were a part of.

After Firtash's arrest in Vienna, U.S. authorities insisted the case against the businessman had nothing to do with rising tensions then in Ukraine.

For more information:

Lawsuit against Dmitry Firtash and Paul Manafort