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'High-Profile' Fugitive From Ukraine Who Faked Death Held In France


A "high-profile fugitive" from Ukraine who faked his death and lived a "lavish lifestyle" in France has been arrested, the European Union law enforcement agency Europol says.

Three sources told RFE/RL on October 16 that the man arrested in France is Dmytro Malynovskyy, an Odesa businessman who reports say has been wanted by police in Ukraine since 2015 on suspicion of large-scale fraud and forgery in a case involving Defense Ministry property in the Black Sea port city.

The sources -- a senior Ukrainian official, a Ukrainian diplomat based in the European Union, and a senior official in the EU -- spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Dmytro Malynovskyy
Dmytro Malynovskyy

Meanwhile, Ukrainian prosecutors announced they had sent an extradition request to the French authorities for a 36-year-old Ukrainian citizen accused of fraud.

Europol said that the man, whose name it did not release, was detained near the eastern city of Dijon earlier this month, together with three alleged accomplices.

More than 4.6 million euros ($5.3 million) in assets, including "a castle, a vintage Rolls Royce Phantom, and 3 works of art by Salvador Dali," were seized in the October 5 raid, a press release said.

It said the man was thought to be behind "a complex case of international fraud and money laundering."

Europol said that the French authorities launched in January an investigation into alleged suspicious transactions surrounding the purchase of a 3 million-euro ($3.5 million) castle in the Burgundy region by a Luxembourg-based company.

It was later established that the ultimate beneficial owner was wanted in Ukraine for alleged "corruption at a large scale" who managed to evade justice by producing "forged death certificates," Europol said.

One of the Ukrainian sources who confirmed Malynovskyy was the person arrested recalled how Malynovskyy had approached him in person in 2016.

"He came to me when I was in Strasbourg, asking for assistance in fighting for justice," the source told RFE/RL, adding that Malynovskyy had bragged to him about buying "a castle in Burgundy, knowing I like wine from the region."

Electoral records show that Malynovskyy ran for Odesa city council in 2006 on the ticket of the Party of Regions, whose leader Viktor Yanukovych became president in 2010 and fled to Russia when he was pushed from power by pro-EU protests in 2014.