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Ukraine oligarch freed on record 125-mn-euro bail in Austria

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash has been released from prison in Austria after paying a record 125 million euros ($172 million) in bail and promising not to leave the country, authorities said Friday.

"The bail was credited to the bank account of Vienna's higher regional court after its provenance was checked by the police (money laundering section). Dmytro F. was therefore released," the court said in a statement.

The energy, chemicals and media magnate, a backer of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, was arrested in Vienna on March 12 on the basis of a US arrest warrant after a lengthy FBI investigation.

The 48-year-old, one of Ukraine's richest men, is wanted in the United States on suspicion of bribery and forming a criminal organisation. He has said that his arrest is politically motivated.

On Thursday Firtash, who controls conglomerate Group DF, paid the bail amount, the highest in Austrian legal history, but remained in custody while police investigated where the money came from.

Last week, Austrian authorities took the first step towards his extradition to the US but a final decision is pending and the tycoon has launched a legal appeal.

Firtash is alleged to be linked to Russian mafia kingpin Semion Mogilevich, who lives freely in Moscow despite being on the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives list.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140321/ukraine-oligarch-freed-record-125-mn-euro-bail-austria