Germany's Deutsche Welle (DW) has reported that the Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash is seeking diplomatic immunity as an employee of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), as the result of the June 14 ruling by the Vienna Higher Regional Court for Criminal Cases.
"The 30-page document contains the arguments of Firtash's lawyers thanks to which the nine-year-old case on his extradition to the United States will now be reconsidered. Their key argument is that in his position at the UNIDO the businessman enjoys diplomatic immunity from criminal prosecution," reports DW.
The Higher Court obliged the trial court to consider the fact of Firtash's employment within UN structures and to decide whether it confers diplomatic status on him. If they come down in his favor, Firtash will not be extradited to the USA where he is charged with corruption and money laundering.
The document also says that Firtash, who is currently in Vienna, obtained the diplomatic position thanks to Belarus's representation to Vienna-based international organizations.
However, the Austrian Justice Ministry told the court that Firtash was not properly accredited to the UNIDO and did not hold the relevant accreditation documents issued by the Foreign Ministry, and therefore does not consider the Ukrainian oligarch qualifies for diplomatic privileges, including immunity, DW added.
Kyiv Post approached the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry for information on Firtash's diplomatic position, but the Ministry said they knew nothing about it.
Firtash, a pro-Russian oligarch who co-owns the Inter Media Group and is the founder of Group DF, has been under the National Security and Defense Council's sanctions since 2021. He was arrested in 2014 in Vienna at the request of the US authorities. In 2019, Austria's justice minister approved his extradition to the US, but the extradition process was suspended after his lawyers appealed the case. Earlier this year, the Vienna Regional Court turned down Firtash's request to re-examine the case of his extradition to the US.
In May 2023, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Bureau of Economic Security (BES) issued notices of suspicion in relation to Firtash and eight senior managers from his companies after a corrupt scheme was uncovered: structures controlled by Firtash were found to have purchased natural gas from his own company but only received 30 percent of the declared amount. The rest was billed to the state-owned gas enterprise and the money landed in Firtash's pocket.
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