Tycoon Firtash suspected of embezzlement in Ukraine

Ukrainian state security agency has served Dmytro Firtash and the managers of companies he controls with “notices of suspicion” of embezzlement.
Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash arrives at court in Vienna, Austria, February 21, 2017.
Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash arrives at court in Vienna, Austria, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's state security agency has served businessman Dmytro Firtash and top managers of companies he controls with "notices of suspicion" of embezzlement, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said in a statement on Monday.

A representative for Firtash, who is currently in Vienna, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The SBU said that, acting with the Economic Security Bureau (BEB), it had uncovered a "large-scale scheme" in which the suspects may have stolen up to $485 million worth of fuel from Ukraine's gas transit system.

While fighting Russia's invasion, Ukraine has also been seeking to reduce the political influence enjoyed by some businessmen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash arrives at court in Vienna, Austria, February 21, 2017.
Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash arrives at court in Vienna, Austria, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

Ukraine imposed sanctions on Firtash last June, accusing him of selling titanium products that Kyiv said ended up being used by Russian military enterprises. Firtash denied the allegations.

Firtash rose to become a wealthy and influential businessman in Ukraine but has been indicted in the United States on bribery and racketeering charges. He denied wrongdoing and has fought extradition from Vienna.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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