Indictment unsealed in bribery case involving Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation

Katie Aguilera

On Friday, January 12, 2018, the Department of Justice unsealed an 11-count indictment against Mark Lambert, a former co-president of a trucking company that provides transportation for nuclear materials to customers in the United States and abroad.  Lambert is alleged to have been involved in a bribery scheme with an official from a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation.

According to the Department of Justice announcement:  “Mark Lambert, 54, of Mount Airy, Maryland, was charged in an 11-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud, seven counts of violating the FCPA, two counts of wire fraud and one count of international promotion money laundering.  The charges stem from an alleged scheme to bribe Vadim Mikerin, a Russian official at JSC Techsnabexport (TENEX), a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation and the sole supplier and exporter of Russian Federation uranium and uranium enrichment services to nuclear power companies worldwide, in order to secure contracts with TENEX.”

Lambert’s former co-president, Darin Condrey, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud in June of 2015.  Vadim Mikerin also pleaded guilty, to conspiracy to commit money laundering involving violations of the FCPA.

These charges come after an FBI investigation that began at least as early as 2009 looking into various violations of the FCPA by people involved in two large deals approved by the Obama administration in 2010 and 2011.

The first deal, in 2010, was the Uranium One deal, which sold part of the Canadian company Uranium One to Russian owned Rosatom.  This made Rosatom one of the biggest uranium producers in the world, and at the time of the sale, gave them control of around 20% of the U.S. uranium supply.  (This does not mean that Russia can export uranium from the U.S.)

The second deal was in 2011.  It gave Rosatom’s subsidiary, Tenex, the right to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants rather than uranium recovered from old Soviet nuclear weapons.

Both deals appear to be surrounded with allegations of kickbacks, money laundering, and extortion.  It is certainly possible that Lambert, Condrey, and Mikerin will not be the only ones facing charges in relation to these deals.

The Hill reported on October 17, 2017 that the FBI had “gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.”  None of this was publicly revealed before the Obama administration approved either deal.

Also from the Hill:

“’The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,’ a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.”

The Hill goes on to discuss the large sums of money the Clinton Foundation received from parties with an interest in the Uranium deals.  The New York Times reported on this in April 2015, writing “Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million.  Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.”

There were other donations as well, and Mr. Clinton received a payment of $500,000 for a speech in Moscow, paid for by a “Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock,” according to the April 2015 New York Times article.

The Clintons have denied that these payments had any affect on the approval of the two deals.  According to the October 2017 article from the Hill, “the Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.”  Both deals were approved by multiple U.S. agencies, and the Canadian government in the Uranium One sale, not by Hillary Clinton or the State Department alone.

The FBI’s investigation continued for at least four years, and it is unclear if any of the officials tasked with approving these deals were made aware of it, or of the financial crimes under investigation, when they made their decisions.

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