Austria prepares to extradite Ukraine oligarch to US 15 марта 2014, 14:13
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Dmytro Firtash, one of Ukraine's richest men. ©Reuters/Maks Levin
Austrian authorities said Friday that Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash had been placed in "extradition custody", the first step towards a possible extradition to the United States, AFP reports.
The Vienna district criminal court said that Firtash, a backer of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych arrested in Austria late Wednesday on the basis of a US arrest warrant, had "filed an appeal against the decision".
US prosecutors said the arrest and extradition request comes after a years-long Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into "an alleged international corruption conspiracy".
"Firtash's arrest is not related to recent events in Ukraine," the US Attorney's office in Chicago said in a statement Friday.
The Vienna court said it had set bail for Firtash, one of Ukraine's richest men, at 125 million euros ($173.9 million) on the understanding that if he pays this and is released, he will not leave Austria.
"The basis for extradition proceedings by the US authorities is suspected bribery and activities in a criminal organisation," judge Andreas Hautz said in a statement.
He added that the court would decide on whether Firtash, 48, could be extradited once a US request and documents that still need to be presented were reviewed.
Firtash's appeal is on the basis that the Vienna court does not have jurisdiction, the statement added. The appeal will be examined by a higher court.
Ukrainian media reported that the FBI suspects Firtash, with interests in energy, chemicals and media, of being closely linked to the Ukrainian-born Russian mafia kingpin Semion Mogilevich.
Mogilevich is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.
He lives freely in Moscow and is believed to have close contacts to both the Russian capital's former mayor Yury Luzhkov and top figures in the Ukrainian security services.
Firtash controls Group DF, an international conglomerate of companies.