Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, other rights and anti-corruption organizations have published a list of foreign officials in 15 countries, recommending them for sanction by the United States government. Businessman Dmytro Firtash is among these persons.
According to a press release of Freedom House in Ukraine, the list includes representatives of Azerbaijan, Russia, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Panama and other countries suspected of large-scale corruption or serious human rights abuses.
“We urge the administration to use the powerful leverage provided by the Global Magnitsky Act to sanction the foreign officials identified in this list. Doing so has the potential to defer future abuses, while also demonstrating moral and strategic leadership,” President of Freedom House Michael J. Abramowitz said.
According to the letter of the rights groups, Firtash is a Ukrainian oligarch and the former head of energy company RosUkrEnergo, and is the current head of Group DF.
Through 2014, Firtash engaged in corrupt practices surrounding the brokering of gas deals between Ukraine and Russia that netted billions of dollars in illicit profits.
According to the letter, Firtash used his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin to purchase more than 20 billion cubic meters of gas from Gazprom at rates far below market value, and used his close ties to the former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych to resell this gas to Ukraine, reportedly resulting in a loss of at least $2 billion to the people of Russia.
Firtash was indicted by a U.S. court in June 2013 for alleged bribery, creation of a criminal group, and attempts to bribe Indian authorities in exchange for preferential titanium extraction contracts.
Firtash allegedly also bribed German officials in order to illegally obtain documents on the status of a corruption investigation into his dealings.
In February, an Austrian appeals court approved an extradition request from the United States concerning Firtash. In May, Firtash’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss this case, arguing that Firtash has no connection to the United States. The case is currently pending in federal court.
The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act allows the president to deny U.S. visas and freeze U.S.-based assets of human rights abusers and corrupt foreign officials.
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