Tory Dilemma Over Scandal-Hit Pro-Putin Oligarch

With Theresa May considering new sanctions on Putin-associated oligarchs and Labour going hard on dodgy Tory money, it’ll be worth keeping an eye on what happens with Dmitry Firtash. The Kremlin-linked Ukrainian billionaire is wanted in America and battling attempts to extradite him to face corruption allegations in Chicago. A few months back Freedom House and Human Rights Watch said he should be placed on the Magnitsky List. He has been dragged into messy litigation in London between Raga, a Cyprus-based firm with links to Firtash, and Ukrainian finance company System Capital Management – Raga has been accused of conning SCM about the sale of a telecoms company in a £580 million lawsuit. This week Firtash’s premises in Ukraine were raided in a tax evasion probe. Given his association with Putin, you’d think he would be the sort of person to attract the interest of the British authorities…

Yet when sanctions were placed on various Putin-friendly individuals following the annexation of Crimea, the Tory government kept Firtash off the list. Definitely nothing to do with a company owned by Firtash’s UK pointman donating tens of thousands of pounds to senior Tories. And definitely nothing to do with New Century Media, a lobbying company which represents Firtash’s personal foundation, donating £143,000 to the Tories. Firtash famously lived it up in a vast home in Knightsbridge, keeping the Tories onside as he used London as a playground. Keep an eye on whether the Tories let him off the hook this time round…

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