Ex-Ukraine PM Tymoshenko's U.S. racketeering lawsuit dismissed

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Manhattan federal judge on Friday dismissed former Ukrainian prime minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko’s civil lawsuit accusing her political opponents of running a U.S.-based racketeering enterprise that led to her imprisonment.

Former prime minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko speaks to supporters at her election headquarters in Kiev May 25, 2014. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood said Tymoshenko failed to show that the industrialist Dmytro Firtash and other defendants laundered money in the United States to help pay Ukraine prosecutors and supporters of Viktor Yanukovych, who in 2010 narrowly defeated Tymoshenko to become Ukraine’s president.

Tymoshenko and two other plaintiffs claimed that Firtash, who owns Ukrainian energy company RosUkrEnergo, and his accomplices “skimmed” millions of dollars from natural gas contracts, and laundered them through bogus Manhattan real estate transactions.

She said the campaign was payback for her 2009 agreement with Russia’s then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to eliminate RosUkrEnergo as an intermediary in the sale of natural gas between their respective countries.

Wood, however, said that “without specifying the particular contribution of each defendant to the money laundering scheme, plaintiffs fail to establish the requisite directness of relationship between each defendant’s conduct and the harm suffered by Tymoshenko.”

The judge dismissed the complaint, which had been amended three times, with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again.

Tymoshenko had sought unspecified triple and punitive damages, including for harm to her reputation.

Her lawyer Kenneth McCallion was not immediately available for comment. A lawyer for most of the defendants had no immediate comment.

A polarizing figure at home, Tymoshenko, 54, was convicted in October 2011 and sentenced to seven years in prison for abusing her power in connection with the 2009 gas transaction.

Tymoshenko was freed in February 2014, when Yanukovych was being ousted as president.

Firtash was indicted in June 2013 by an Illinois federal grand jury over an alleged scheme to pay $18.5 million of bribes to Indian officials to allow the mining of titanium minerals.

On April 30, an Austrian judge rejected a U.S. request to extradite Firtash, who claimed the charges were politically motivated.

The case is Tymoshenko et al v. Firtash et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-02794.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris Reese