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Austrian Court Rejects Spanish Extradition Request For Ukrainian Tycoon Firtash

Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash (file photo)
Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash (file photo)

A court in Austria has rejected a Spanish extradition request for Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash.

The move paves the way for the businessman to potentially face bribery charges in the United States.

In February, a Vienna appeals court overturned a lower court's ruling that Firtash should not be extradited to the United States because the request was politically motivated due to Firtash's links with Russia.

The appeals court's ruling said the U.S. bribery allegations were purely criminal in nature.

The Spanish extradition request in relation to money laundering accusations came on the same day as that appeal was overruled.

"The request from Spain has been rejected," a spokeswoman for the Vienna criminal court said on August 30.

The judge in charge had not received all the information he had asked the Spanish authorities to provide, the spokeswoman said.

The Spanish High Court declined to comment.

Firtash is a former supporter of Ukraine's ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. Firtash, who denies the accusations, made a fortune selling Russian gas to the Ukrainian government.

Firtash remains influential in Ukraine due to his part-ownership of Inter, a top television channel, and his gas distribution and fertilizer businesses.

Firtash was indicted by a U.S. grand jury in 2013 in connection with some $18.5 million in bribes allegedly paid for a permit to mine titanium in India.

He was detained in Vienna in March 2014 on the U.S. charges, but he was set free after posting bail of 125 million euros ($133 million).

Firtash, who is also wanted on criminal charges in Ukraine, has not left Austria since his initial detention.

Prosecutors in Vienna acting on behalf of Spain have two weeks to appeal the rejection of the request, the Austrian court spokeswoman said.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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