Exclusive interview: Ukrainian businessman fights Chicago extradition as war rages on

Exclusive interview: Ukrainian businessman fights Chicago extradition as war rages on

CHICAGO (TOC) — In an unique interview, Dmitry Firtash, a strong Ukrainian oligarch going through bribery-related federal expenses in Chicago, sat down with ABC7 Investigative Reporter Chuck Goudie.

“I’m optimistic the reality is on our aspect and I am certain we can defend ourselves,” mentioned Firtash.

Firtash spoke solely with the I-Group from Vienna, Austria by means of a translator. Since his arrest in 2014, he is been required to remain at his residence there and has been preventing extradition to the U.S. on racketeering and bribery-related expenses. The highly effective Ukrainian businessman informed the I-Group that if extradited, he is ready to “stand in entrance of the courtroom in Chicago” and reply questions from federal prosecutors.

“I do not really feel I did something improper. I’ve mentioned many occasions, I spoke and I mentioned that the opinion of Chicago U.S. attorneys is unfair. It has no proper to accuse me of this and I discover it, the matter, to be empty,” Firtash informed Goudie.

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Firtash adamantly denied he was a part of an alleged scheme to bribe authorities officers in India. He has by no means been to Chicago. Prosecutors mentioned the scheme concerned not less than $18.5 million in corrupt funds linked to a titanium cope with Chicago-based Boeing, the aviation large. Boeing is just not charged with wrongdoing.

“I don’t think about myself responsible. I do not consider I did something and I am certain I am going to have the ability to efficiently defend my repute. I have been at it for eight years. Everyday, painstakingly from night time to morning and from morning to nighttime,” Firtash mentioned.

Firtash mentioned prosecutors in Chicago “selected the improper purpose.”

“I am not the individual on whom the nation’s finances and cash should be spent on my extradition. They need to, for certain, have one thing higher to do,” Firtash informed the I-Group.

Now, Firtash’s residence nation of Ukraine is below assault by the Russians he as soon as did enterprise with. The I-Group has discovered Firtash’s huge enterprise empire features a chemical plant in japanese Ukraine, now apparently surrounded by Russian forces. Firtash informed the I-Group that when the conflict started, federal prosecutors rejected his request to return to his Ukrainian homeland to assist defend the nation.

“Ukraine is my life. My residence and my household. How can it have an effect on you when somebody comes into your own home and breaks all the things that exists?” Firtash mentioned.

Firtash informed the I-Group that his firm has already evacuated 1000’s of individuals from the realm. However, they’re nonetheless making an attempt to assist lots of of staff and native civilians trapped within the plant below bombardment.

“I hope they’re alive. No less than we wish to consider.. however, they suppose they’re alive,” Firtash mentioned.

Because the conflict started, Firtash has denounced the invasion and referred to as stories that he has shut hyperlinks to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “lies and smears.”

“Do you think about Vladimir Putin to be your enemy?” Goudie requested.

“I see him because the President of the Russian Federation that unleashed a conflict in Ukraine. The one who gave the command to assault our nation,” Firtash responded.

Whereas Firtash has fought for years to clear his identify and keep away from going through prosecutors right here in Chicago for years, the I-Group tracked when his identify surfaced in the course of the first Donald Trump impeachment investigation and the 2020 marketing campaign.

“I by no means had any connections with both Donald Trump or together with his individuals,” Firtash mentioned.

SEE ALSO | Ukraine-born Chicago lady stranded in Poland after invasion as Chicagoans collect provides to ship

In the course of the Trump administration, Firtash did rent two Republican Washington, D.C. attorneys who unsuccessfully lobbied then-US Legal professional Normal Invoice Barr to drop his case. And Lev Parnas, who has been convicted of federal marketing campaign finance violations, beforehand claimed that he sought Firtash’s assist to additional Rudy Giuliani’s anti-Biden quest in Ukraine. Firtash strongly denied any try to affect American politics.

“Have been you ever requested by Rudy Giuliani to dig up filth on Joe Biden?” Goudie requested.

“I do not know Mr. Giuliani nor his individuals. I’ve by no means mentioned something about digging up something about anybody or any type of data,” Firtash responded.

Firtash and his attorneys have continued to attend to see how his extradition will play out in Austria. Firtash informed the I-Group that if he is ever pressured to come back to Chicago, he is able to face prosecutors.

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