Austrian court says Ukrainian oligarch with ties to Manafort can be sent to U.S.

Dmytro Firtash, who was arrested in Austria in 2014, denies all wrongdoing.
Ukrainian oligarch Dymitro Firtash waits for the start of his trial at the Austrian supreme court in Vienna on June 25.Ronald Zak / AP
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By Associated Press and Julia Ainsley

Austria's Supreme Court of Justice has ruled that a Ukrainian oligarch who prosecutors say had business ties to President Donald Trump's ex-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, can be extradited to the United States in a bribery case.

Judges on Tuesday upheld a lower court's ruling that Dmytro Firtash, who was arrested in Austria in 2014, can be sent to the U.S.

"We are disappointed in today’s decision by the Austrian Supreme Court," his lawyers said in a statement. "In any event, nothing has changed regarding Mr. Firtash’s innocence and the absence of evidence that he is guilty of any crime."

The decision comes days after a Chicago federal judge rejected a motion to dismiss an indictment accusing Firtash of a conspiracy to pay bribes in India to mine titanium, used in jet engines.

Firtash denies wrongdoing and argued that the U.S. has no jurisdiction over crimes in India. However, federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ruled it did because any scheme would have impacted a Chicago-based company, the American aviation giant Boeing.

Boeing has said it considered doing business with Firtash but never followed through. It is not accused of any wrongdoing.

The Austria Press Agency reported that Justice Minister Clemens Jabloner will now have to decide whether the extradition can go ahead.

Firtash's Austrian lawyer and spokesman declined immediate comment after Tuesday's ruling.

Earlier this month, a U.S. senator alleged that Firtash, who has been linked to Russian organized crime. has made "hundreds of millions" in "illicit profits" while fighting extradition to the U.S.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., wrote in an April 2018 letter obtained by NBC News that Dmytro Firtash had served as a "direct agent of the Kremlin" and was using the money earned from ongoing "corruption" to delay his extradition to Chicago.

In 2008, according to court records, Firtash was involved with the firm of Paul Manafort, later Donald Trump's campaign chair, in an abandoned plan to redevelop New York's Drake Hotel for $850 million. Firtash's company planned to invest more than $100 million, the records say.

Before becoming Trump's campaign manager, Manafort pursued a business deal with Firtash to redevelop a Manhattan hotel. Manafort isn't accused of any wrongdoing in the Chicago case.

Manafort was sentenced in March to serve more than seven years in prison on federal charges in cases brought in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

The charges related to Manafort's years of Ukrainian political consulting work.

Manafort also faces fraud charges in New York state.

Associated Press
Julia Ainsley

Julia Ainsley is a correspondent covering the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

Tim Stelloh and Tom Winter contributed.