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Dmytro Vasylovych Firtash Wikipedia (Ukrainian:born 2 May 1965) is a Ukrainian businessman who heads the board of directors of Group DF. He was highly influential during the Yuschenko administration and Yanukovych administration. As a middleman for the Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, Firtash funneled money into the campaigns of pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.
His many roles during the Yuschenko administration included: presidency of the Federation of Employers of Ukraine (FEU), an interest association of industrial enterprises that he chairs; chairmanship of the National Tripartite Social and Economic Council (NTSEC); co-chairmanship of Domestic and Foreign Investors Advisory Council under the Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Sports of Ukraine; and membership in the Committee for Economic Reforms under the President of Ukraine.
Firtash was arrested by Austrian authorities in March 2014. In February 2017, the Vienna Court of Appeals ordered that Firtash be extradited to the United States, to face charges that he had secured a titanium extraction permit in India through $18.5 million in bribes.
As of August 2016, Firtash has not returned to Ukraine following the Maidan revolution of 2014. The current status of many of his various offices and titles within Ukraine are not clear; specifically those not directly related to his own business holdings. To date, he has retained ownership of his assets within Ukraine, including those areas presently under Russian control.
Firtash is a controversial figure in Ukraine. According to documents uncovered during the United States diplomatic cables leak in 2010, Firtash told U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor of needing permission from alleged Russian crime boss Semyon Mogilevich to do business in Ukraine during the lawless 1990s. The same documents suggest that Firtash also claimed to be friends with President Viktor Yushchenko. Firtash denied the remarks. Allegedly, Gazprom, a Russian natural-gas extraction company, had asked Mogilevich to oversee natural-gas deliveries from Russia to Ukraine via gas intermediary RosUkrEnergo. All parties deny connections with Mogilevich. Other cables said Firtash and Mogilevich were linked through offshore companies either by joint ownership through former spouses or through Firtash-headed companies in which Mogilevich’s former spouse was the shareholder. It was also suspected that Raiffeisen Bank, an Austrian-based bank, was a front to legitimize RosUkrEnergo.
On 16 June 2009, Yulia Tymoshenko accused the other candidates in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election – Viktor Yushchenko, Arseniy Yatseniuk and Viktor Yanukovych – of sharing a single campaign headquarters financed by Firtash. She accused Firtash, who is a key contributor to Yanukovych, of fraudulently using New York real estate through which to launder money from Ukraine through the United States and then back to Ukraine to support various corrupt political activities and politicians. On 26 April 2011, Tymoshenko sued Firtash and RosUkrEnergo in a U.S. District Courtin Manhattan, accusing them of manipulating an arbitration court ruling in Stockholm – the ruling had ordered Ukraine’s state energy company, Naftogaz, to pay RosUkrEnergo 11 billion cubic meters of natural gas to compensate for fuel it had “expropriated” plus 1.1 billion cubic meters of gas as a penalty.
Certain analysts and Ukrainian politicians believe that Firtash is a secret force behind the sentencing of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011, either for revenge or to hinder Ukraine’s European Union integration for personal financial gain. Firtash was accused in a New York court of “masterminding” Tymoshenko’s imprisonment; the case was dismissed in March 2013.
Lawsuit: Trump Aide Funneled Mob-Linked Ukrainian Oligarch’s Fortune into U.S. Real Estate Suit dismissed in 2014 highlighted financial activities of former Yanukovych adviser Paul Manafort Washington Free Beacon BY: March 31, 2016 “That involvement came to light through Tymoshenko’s lawsuit, which was filed in 2011 against Firtash and a number of his political and business associates. The suit alleged that Firtash had funneled ill-gotten gains from a Ukrainian gas monopoly through business interests that allowed him to shield income from authorities in that country.The lawsuit, brought by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, accused U.S. political consultant Paul Manafort of complicity in a complex scheme of retaliation against Tymoshenko and her political allies for impeding the business interests of Ukrainian gas tycoon Dmitry Firtash. Manafort was working on the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) in late 2008. He was also on the payroll of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Manafort is widely creditedwith rehabilitating Yanukovych’s image in Ukraine and helping to engineer his victory in the country’s 2010 presidential election.
At the same time, Manafort was arranging financial ventures with Firtash’s backing, emails show. On August 25, 2008, he emailed two other individuals who would be involved in some of these ventures. One of them, Brad Zackson, was a former manager of the Trump Organization under Fred Trump, Donald’s father.
Manafort hoped to get input from Zackson on a “vision statement” for a real estate investment firm called CMZ Ventures. According to its founding documents, CMZ was jointly owned by Zackson’s Barbara Ann Holdings LLC, Manafort’s XXX LLC, and Vulcan Properties, which was controlled by real estate developer Arthur G. Cohen and owned by his wife.
Manafort made clear that Firtash was deeply involved in the process. “We should have a checklist organized for me to review this week of what would be the next steps if DF signs off on the Vision Statement,” he wrote.
Manafort met with Firtash in Kiev in December 2008 to discuss the arrangement. One of his partners reported his success: Firtash’s holding company, Group DF, would invest $100 million in a global real estate fund, pay an initial fee of $1.5 million to CMZ to manage the fund, and set up offices for the firm in Kiev.
Manafort was back in Ukraine a few months later to discuss the arrangement with Firtash. “Basically, DF is still totally on board and a wire will be forthcoming … as a partial payment on the 1.5,” he wrote. “Obviously, there is a lot going on over there, some with DF some on politics but affecting DF,” he added. “Things are moving in a forward direction but slowly.”
At the same time, Manafort was arranging another major real estate deal on Firtash’s behalf. He and Group DF discussed plans in late 2008 to buy the site of New York’s famed Drake Hotel. Zackson had already met with the company in Monte Carlo. “It could not have gone better,” he reported.
David Brown, the chief executive of Group DF’s real estate division, laid out the terms of the deal in a letter dated November 8, 2008, four days after Manafort client McCain lost the U.S. presidential election.
Group DF was “prepared to provide $112 million in equity for the project” with an up-front commitment of $25 million, Brown wrote.
The $850 million Drake deal eventually fell through, despite Zackson’s last-minute attempts to get Donald Trump on board as an investor. Tymoshenko alleged that it was just part of a larger plan to funnel Firtash’s fortune into offshore real estate ventures.
“By inviting Firtash to utilize the various U.S. based companies to facilitate Firtash’s money laundering and political corruption activities, Manafort gave Firtash the opportunity to expand the scope of his money laundering activities into the United States,” her lawsuit alleged in claims that the judge eventually found wanting.
While Manafort was not found to have violated either the Alien Tort Statute or the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the two laws at issue in the suit, his involvement in Firtash’s interests could be a political liability for a Trump campaign that has already drawn fire for its closeness with Russia.
Tymoshenko claimed that CMZ and other Manafort-run firms were backed not just by Firtash but also by Semion Mogilevich, a Ukrainian national deeply involved in Russian organized crime. Tymoshenko’s lawsuit referred to Mogilevich as a “silent partner” in Group DF.
Mogilevich is “involved in weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale,” according to the FBI.
In a meeting with the American ambassador to Ukraine in late 2008, Firtash “acknowledged ties to Russian organized crime figure Seymon Mogilevich, stating he needed Mogilevich’s approval to get into business in the first place,” according to a State Department cable released by Wikileaks.
“Firtash acknowledged that he needed, and received, permission from Mogilievich when he established various businesses, but he denied any close relationship to him,” according to the cable.Firtash is currently wanted by the FBI, which has sought to extradite him to the U.S. on bribery charges since his 2014 apprehension in Austria.“