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Spain puts Ukrainian businessman Firtash on wanted list, charges with money laundering

Spain puts Ukrainian businessman Firtash on wanted list, charges with money launderingThe Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office of Spain has put Ukrainian business tycoon, chief of Group DF Dmytro Firtash, who is charged with money laundering in large amounts, on the international wanted list, Deutsche Welle reported.

Firtash has been put on the list along with his two accomplices – citizens of Ukraine, whose names are not disclosed in the interest of the investigation, Deutsche Welle reports with reference to its source in the prosecutor's office in Spain.

The agency's interlocutor also said that when the search warrant was issued, Firtash's five other accomplices were detained in Barcelona and in the resort town of Marbella on November 24. They were directly involved in money laundering organised by the Ukrainian tycoon. A famous Spanish lawyer, Antonio de Fortuny, was among the detainees, DW said.

According to prosecutors, these people have created a number of offshore companies in Panama for Firtash, and some of the capital stayed in Spain as an investment in real estate.

These crimes involve tens of millions of euros of criminal origin. A representative of the prosecutor's office refused to disclose the exact amounts. They also said that Firtash's case was considered by prosecutors as part of the Variola operation, which started in July 2016 with the arrest in Spain of Stepan Chernovetsky, the son of former Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky, and eleven other people also suspected of money laundering. Stepan Chernovetsky was freed from custody in summer but still remains under investigation.

The documents found during the searches in the Chernovetsky case helped the investigators to link Firtash to the case, the representative of the prosecutor's office said. However, he expressed the doubt that the Ukrainian tycoon will be ever arrested by Spanish law-enforcers. For several years, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has been searching unsuccessfully for Firtash in connection with serious charges, including a bribe in exchange for a license to develop titanium deposits in India, DW said.

As was reported, Chairman of Group DF's board and Ukrainian Employers Federation head Firtash was arrested in Austria on March 12, 2014, at the request of the U.S. authorities. The Vienna Regional Court for Criminal Matters ruled on Firtash's extradition-related arrest but then decided to release him on EUR 125 million bail on condition he would not leave Austria. On April 30, 2015, the same court ruled not to extradite Firtash to the United States.

Firtash told reporters after the court hearings that he was planning to return to Ukraine after receiving the adjudication.

In late December, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that Firtash will be detained in the event of his return to Ukraine in connection with a relevant request by the United States Department of Justice.

The U.S. government accused six individuals, including Firtash, of bribing Indian officials to receive a permit for mining operations.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the accused attempted to pay a bribe worth $18.5 million in the hope of receiving $500 million from selling titanium mined in the Indian state Andhra Pradesh.
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