Ukraine Says Tycoon Firtash Suspected of Embezzlement

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(Bloomberg) -- Ukrainian authorities said tycoon Dmitry Firtash and managers at firms under his control had been notified that they are suspects in a scheme that led to the state suffering losses of 4.2 billion hryvnia ($115 million) in 2021 alone.

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The businessman along with managers at regional natural gas distributors and other companies are suspected of embezzling more than 18 billion hryvnia from 2016 through 2022 as part a “large-scale scheme” involving fuel from Ukraine’s pipeline network, the Security Service of Ukraine said in a statement Monday.

Five suspects have been notified in absentia of the accusations as they are abroad, the agency said. Efforts are being made to put them on the international wanted list, the Prosecutor-General’s Office said in a separate statement.

Firtash’s company Group DF “firmly and categorically denies all allegations,” according to an emailed statement. The accusations are “unfounded and lack consistency,” the company said late Monday. “Group DF perceives these actions as part of an ongoing campaign of corrupt pressure directed at its business operations.

Firtash, who made much of his fortune in the gas trade and expanded into chemicals and television, was arrested in Austria in 2014 and has since fought an extradition request from the US after posting bail. Austria’s highest court backed the US application in 2019, though the Vienna Higher Regional Court is now assessing a request from Firtash for a retrial. He has denied wrong doing in that case.

In 2021, Ukraine imposed sanctions against the magnate for three years after the security service said it had traced deliveries of titanium to Russia from companies linked with him.

--With assistance from Olesia Safronova and Marton Eder.

(Updates with Firtash’s company coments in fourth paragraph)

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