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Home News Austria launches inquiry into Yanukovych’s former allies

Austria launches inquiry into Yanukovych’s former allies

Published on 14/04/2014

Austrian prosecutors have launched an investigation into members of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's government on charges including money-laundering, officials said Monday.

Although the names and positions of those under investigation have not been released, the investigation will look at those who were close to Yanukovych, who fled into exile in Russia after a four-month uprising in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

The announcement was made in response to a parliamentary request by the members of the New Austria party, or NEOS, which specifically named ex-Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov — whose assets have already been frozen by the European Union.

Austria is widely seen in Ukraine as a financial haven for oligarchs and those in Yanukovych’s entourage who allegedly got rich during his administration.

The Vienna prosecutor’s office will investigate “a number of people suspected of money laundering and other crimes”, said Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter.

The inquiry started at the beginning of this year, and is being led by the criminal intelligence service, he said.

He added that he had also asked Ukraine’s public prosecutor for support.

According to the Austrian press, a number of people close to the former Ukrainian president have close links to the Austrian capital, including Azarov — who came to the city briefly after he resigned in January — and Yanukovych’s once-powerful administration chief Andrei Klyuev.

One investigation into Klyuev was opened in 2012, but was later abandoned, the Vienna prosecutor’s office said.

The Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash — one of Yanukovych’s former confidants — is facing extradition to the United States, and is currently banned from leaving Austria while a judge considers the request.

He was released on bail after paying a record 125 million euros ($172 million) and promising to stay in the country while he fights the extradition.

Austria introduced sanctions over the Ukraine crisis even before the EU, freezing the assets of 18 members of Yanukovych’s entourage at the end of February.