Ukrainian tycoon Firtash released on bail in Vienna

by Reuters
Friday, 24 February 2017 14:17 GMT

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VIENNA, Feb 24 (Reuters) - A Vienna court granted Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash bail on Friday, three days after a decision to extradite him to the United States on bribery allegations and his arrest on charges of money-laundering in Spain.

"The application to impose provisional detention pending surrender was dismissed," the court said in a statement.

Firtash would be released from jail immediately, a court spokeswoman said.

The businessman, who denies any wrongdoing, is a former supporter of Ukraine's ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich. Firtash made a fortune selling Russian gas to the Kiev government when Yanukovich was in power.

The court's decision was on condition of a bond of $125 million, which Firtash paid when he was first detained on a U.S. request in Vienna in 2014, being retained. Firtash is also not allowed to leave Austria and his passport must be handed over to the court.

It was not known when the Ukrainian would be extradited to the United States and the legal process may be lengthy, the spokeswoman said.

An Austrian court on Tuesday approved Firtash's extradition, overturning an earlier ruling that the U.S. request was politically motivated.

Minutes after the Austrian judge announced the extradition verdict, Firtash was detained on a European arrest warrant based on a separate Spanish request.

A Spanish judicial source said Firtash was accused of laundering money from criminal activity in Spain.

Firtash, whose business concerns in gas trading and chemicals thrived under Yanukovich, has not returned to Ukraine since his initial detention in Vienna three years ago.

He retains influence in Ukraine thanks to his part-ownership of Inter, a top television channel, and his gas distribution and fertiliser businesses. Firtash has said he would return to Ukraine, if allowed to. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle and Shadia Nasralla; editing by Andrew Roche)

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