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Ukrainian oligarch arrested in Vienna

Ukrainian oligarch arrested in Vienna

Austrian authorities have arrested pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch Dimitry Firtash, thought to be one of the richest Ukrainian businessmen who also has close ties to Russia.

Firtash was arrested on Wednesday in Vienna, where he is still being held, following a request made by United States FBI authorities who have been investigating the 48-year-old Ukrainian since 2006 and suspect him of being involved in bribery and forming a criminal organisation.

The arrest is thought to be a warning from Washington to Putin that his Ukrainian allies will be targeted if Russia continues to exert control over Crimea region of Ukraine, following the overthrow of the pro-Russian government in Kiev by pro-Europe protesters in February.

The US had warned Putin that he will "face costs" unless he changed his tactic in Ukraine and withdraws from Crimea, with the EU agreeing yesterday to implement the first sanctions against Russia since the Cold War.

Along with Russian gas company Gazprom, Firtash owned the Swiss company RosUkrEnergo, a company that exports gas from Central Asia to Eastern Europe. He is a big investor in chemicals and gas companies around Europe, and he also has offshore bank accounts in Austria and Switzerland, as well as owning property in the UK.

Ukraine's chemical industry is much under the control of his company Group DF, which relies on Russian pricing of natural gas and investor analysers have commented on his 'close ties to Russia' and 'even Putin'.

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