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Austria investigates Ukrainians for money-laundering

Source: Reuters - Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:51 GMT
Author: Reuters
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In this 2009 file photo, a clerk places money into a safe in a bank in Vienna REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
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VIENNA, April 14 (Reuters) - Vienna prosecutors are investigating several people close to the ousted Ukrainian government on suspicion of money-laundering and sanctions violations, Austrian law enforcement officials said.

The Austrian justice ministry said "numerous" persons were being investigated over money-laundering and other crimes, including former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his son Oleksii.

"The justice ministry has asked Ukraine's public prosecutor to submit a letter of request in which it would make its suspicions more concrete," it said in a written answer to a parliamentary question from the NEOS party.

A spokesman for the Vienna prosecutors' office declined to say who the other people under suspicion were.

"There are currently investigations but I can't say against whom," he said on Monday.

Switzerland's public prosecutor has also opened two formal money-laundering investigations into unnamed associates of toppled President Viktor Yanukovich, who is suspected of human rights abuses and misuse of state funds.

Dozens of Ukrainians have had their assets frozen in the European Union and Switzerland at the request of Ukraine's new government.

Ukrainian industrialist Dmytro Firtash was arrested in Vienna last month at the request of U.S. authorities investigating corruption charges. He was released on bail of 125 million euros ($173 million) pending a ruling on whether he can be extradited to the United States. ($1 = 0.7238 Euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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