Hyderabad: Ukrainian billionaire Dmitry Firtash, a former business partner of jailed Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, has lost his extradition case in Austria on Tuesday.
Firtash along with five others, including Rajya Sabha MP K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao, is alleged to have orchestrated a conspiracy to pay bribes worth $18.5 million to secure the mining permits in Andhra Pradesh.
Austria’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a decision granting a US request to extradite Firtash, paving the way for him to face trial in the United States over bribery allegations.
Austrian justice minister Clemens Jabloner, a civil servant who is part of a caretaker government, must now decide whether to extradite Firtash.
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, which is used in jet engines.
Five of the six defendants were also charged with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, among a few other offences.
The Interpol General Secretariat (IPSG), Lyon, France, also published a ‘red corner notice’ against Ramachandra Rao in 2014.
This notice was issued after Firtash’s arrest on March 12, 2014. However, Ramachandra Rao challenged this and obtained a stay order.
On April 28, 2014, the High Court asked the CID to refrain from proceeding further on the Interpol notice issued against Ramachandra Rao. The court also issued similar notices to the centre and the CBI.
The National Central Bureau-Interpol CBI, in its writ petition in 2014, filed in the Hyderabad High Court (common for both Telangana state and Andhra Pradesh), admitted that information had been received that from January 2005 to June 2013, Mr Ramachandra Rao and the others were members of a criminal enterprise to establish a beach sand mining project in Andhra Pradesh.
In Mr Ramachandra Rao’s submissions, the MP claimed the case was the result of political rivalry. He also made the claim that the Interpol stemmed from the claim that US laws had been broken but that these did not apply to Mr Ramachandra Rao, who is an Indian citizen. NCB Interpol’s assistant director S.P.S. Dutta’s affidavit rejected all of Ramachandra Rao’s objections.
It all began in 2006 when the defendants planned to obtain the licence from Andhra Pradesh for the mining project of titanium products. The mining project was expected to generate more than $500 million annually from the sale of titanium products, including sales to unnamed “Company A,” headquartered in Chicago.
Boeing had tentatively agreed to buy titanium through Bothli Trade AG, a company controlled by Firtash. The deal ultimately fell through and Boeing managed to procure the titanium from other sources.
Firtash is facing bribery charges on five counts in the Chicago court and faces up to 50 years in prison if the case eventually goes against him....