Austrian authorities are investigating several Ukrainians close to the former government on money-laundering suspicions, prosecutors said.
Among the suspects are former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s son Oleksiy and other Ukrainians targeted by European Union sanctions, Thomas Vecsey, a spokesman for Vienna prosecutors, said via telephone. They are probed after Austrian banks reported suspicious capital flows earlier this year, Vecsey said. He declined to identify other people than Azarov.
Austria froze in March the accounts of 18 Ukrainians, preempting similar EU sanctions against the ousted government by almost a week. The move was triggered by a request of the new Ukrainian government that named former officials suspected of corruption and human rights violation. About six million euros ($8.3 million) in about a dozen accounts were blocked in Austria as a result, Profil magazine reported April 7.
“In this context, Vienna’s state prosecutors also started an investigation against numerous persons because of suspected money laundering and other offenses,” Austrian Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter wrote in a response to a parliamentary question published late yesterday. Austria asked Ukrainian prosecutors to specify their allegations against the individuals in order to allow further prosecution, Vecsey said.
Austria’s company register lists Oleksiy Azarov, who’s targeted by EU sanctions, as former managing director of a Viennese company called Sustainable Ukraine gemeinnuetzige Forschung GmbH. His wife, Lilya Azarova, is listed as the 50 percent-owner of Publishing Deluxe Holding GmbH.
Switzerland opened an investigation into deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his son Oleksandr for alleged money laundering in February. Swiss officials also froze the funds of Yanukovych and his entourage to avoid misappropriation of Ukrainian state assets, prosecutors said.
Ukrainian billionaire Dmitry Firtash was arrested on a U.S. warrant in Vienna last month. He was released on a record 125 million euro bail awaiting his extradition proceedings.