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US accuses titanium executive of bribery

Keywords: Tags  Dmitry Firtash, titanium sponge, Department of Justice, bribery charges, India, ilmenite, Group DF, Ukraine Zaporozhye Titanium and Magnesium Combine State Enterprise

LOS ANGELES — A federal indictment unsealed this past week accuses a Ukrainian titanium executive of conspiring to bribe officials in India to mine minerals, including ilmenite, a feedstock for sponge.

The indictment, returned under seal in June 2013, alleges that beginning in 2006 Dmitry Firtash, the 48-year-old owner of Kyiv, Ukraine-based Group DF Ltd., was the leader of an enterprise in which he authorized payment of at least $18.5 million in bribes to officials of the Indian government and the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Firtash and five other foreign nationals, including an Indian government official, are accused of an "international racketeering conspiracy involving bribes of state and central government officials in India to allow the mining of titanium minerals," the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

The Justice Department is seeking to extradite Firtash from Austria, where he was released from a Vienna jail March 21 after posting $174 million in bail (, March 21).

Firtash described the charges against him as "completely absurd and unfounded" and expressed confidence they’ll be dismissed, he said on Group DF’s website.

Last year, a unit of Group DF became the leading investor in the former Zaporozhye Titanium & Magnesium Combine State Enterprise, Ukraine’s only significant titanium producer, according to its website.

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