Ex-Ukraine Leader Appeals U.S. Extortion Conviction

SAN FRANCISCO, USA -- Ukraine's former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko has asked a U.S. appeals court to overturn his sentence of nine years in prison on extortion and money laundering charges, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Pavlo Lazarenko

U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins last month sentenced Lazarenko, only the second foreign leader to be convicted in the United States, and fined him $10 million.

On Friday the judge also ordered Lazarenko to forfeit more than $26 million plus interest from his bank accounts linked to the case.

"From the original 52 counts, we are down to 14," defense attorney Dennis Riordan told Reuters in explaining the appeal. "All of the (eight) money laundering counts are subject to attack."

Lazarenko became a multimillionaire while in the top echelons of government during the chaotic post-Soviet 1990s.

Now under house arrest in San Francisco pending the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals review of the case, he is the first foreign leader sentenced in a U.S. court since Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega in 1992.

A jury convicted Lazarenko, Ukraine's prime minister from 1996 to 1997, of 29 counts of extortion, laundering money through California banks, fraud, and transportation of stolen property.

Judge Jenkins later threw out 15 counts, finding that there was not enough evidence to sustain those convictions.

Source: Reuters

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