An Austrian court said Friday that it has ruled in favor of Ukrainian businessman Dymitro Firtash in a years-long legal saga over a U.S. bid to have him extradited to face corruption charges, sending the extradition case back to square one.
Firtash faces a U.S. indictment accusing him of a conspiracy to pay bribes in India to mine titanium, which is used in jet engines. He denies any wrongdoing.
He was arrested in Austria in 2014 and then freed on $136 million bail, kicking off a still-unresolved legal saga. A Vienna court initially ruled against extradition on the grounds that the indictment was politically motivated.
A higher court in February 2017 rejected that reasoning as “insufficiently substantiated” and ruled that Firtash could be extradited. Austria’s Supreme Court of Justice upheld that ruling in 2019.
The country’s justice minister at the time approved the extradition, but a Vienna court judge ruled it could only take place after a decision on a defense call to reopen the case. Firtash backed that June 2019 motion with “numerous documents, including written witness statements,” Vienna’s upper state court said.
In March 2022, a Vienna court ruled against reopening the case. But the upper state court said Friday that it has now ruled in favor of Firtash and decided to allow reopening extradition proceedings, overturning the 2017 ruling. It pointed to new evidence.
Judges in Vienna will now have to consider anew whether Firtash can be sent to the United States.
In June 2019, a Chicago federal judge rejected a motion to dismiss the indictment against Firtash, who has argued that the U.S. has no jurisdiction over crimes in India. However, the judge ruled that it does, because any scheme would have impacted a Chicago-based company.
American aviation company Boeing, based in Chicago, has said it considered business with Firtash but never followed through. It is not accused of any wrongdoing.