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Ukrainian billionaire detained in Austria on U.S. arrest warrant

A Ukrainian billionaire involved in the business of importing natural-gas from the Russia Federation into the Ukraine was nabbed by Austrian cops in Vienna at the request of the United States government, according to the U.S. Justice Department on Friday.

Firtash is facing bribery and organized crime charges in the heart of U.S. organized crime -- Chicago.
Firtash is facing bribery and organized crime charges in the heart of U.S. organized crime -- Chicago.IBT/AOL

The suspect, Dmitry Firtash, was taken into custody on Thursday by officers from the Austrian national police's Organized-Crime Unit based on an outstanding arrest warrant issued by the FBI's Chicago Office and the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Zachary Fardon.

The 48-year-old tycoon is wanted in the United States for alleged bribery and he's also accused of forming an organized crime enterprise, according to the warrant, which was issued as a result of and FBI investigation that began in 2006.

This is “an absolutely seismic development on so many different levels. "It sends a strong message to Russia that the West is willing to go down the financial sanctions route unless it backtracks over Crimea and over broader policy towards Ukraine,” Standard Bank's chief economist Timothy Ash said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Russian officials are already preparing for the threatened U.S. and European Union sanctions that are being discussed as citizens in Crimea prepare to vote on secession from Ukraine on March 16, according to Fox News.