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Austrian court refuses to extradite tycoon Oleh Bakhmatyuk to Ukraine

by The Kyiv Independent news desk March 13, 2023 7:07 PM 1 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

An Austrian court has refused Ukraine's request to extradite businessman Oleh Bakhmatyuk, according to Bakhmatyuk's statement on March 13 to Interfax.

The Austrian court deemed the extradition request "unacceptable," according to Bakhmatyuk, the owner of Ukrainian agricultural company UkrLandFarming.

He added that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine's (NABU) calls for his arrest were driven by the previous leadership and hoped that the case would be dropped now that the anti-corruption body was headed by Semen Kryvonos.

Bakhmatyuk was arrested by Ukraine's High Anti-Corruption Court in absentia on March 7 on charges of allegedly giving bribes to Roman Nasirov, the former head of the Federal Tax Service, and his adviser.

According to a press release from the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO), the bribe is said to have been worth around Hr 722 million ($19.3 million), and was intended to secure VAT reimbursement for legal entities under Bakhmatyuk's control.

The press release did not mention Bakhmatyuk by name, but he released a statement on the same day, calling it a "gross violation of international law" and declaring that the legal action "humiliates" Ukraine in the eyes of the international community.

NABU investigators established during their investigation which concluded on Feb. 3 that Nasirov, during his tenure as the head of the Federal Tax Service in 2015 and 2016, received $5.5 million in exchange for granting agricultural holding companies Hr 540 million ($14.5 million) in VAT reimbursement in August 2015. Additionally, he received over 21 million euros for compensating almost 2.7 billion euros in VAT reimbursement from February 2015 to August 2016.

Nasirov has denied the accusations.

New top anti-corruption investigator has mixed record of graft allegations, reformist credentials

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