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Ex Russia nuke official jailed four years for laundering bribe money

A former director of a Russian nuclear energy firm was sentenced Tuesday to 48 months in federal prison for taking $2 million in bribes to award uranium transportation contracts to an American company.

Judge Theodore Chuang in the federal district of Maryland also ordered Vadim Mikerin to forfeit $2.1 million.

Mikerin, 56, lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He pleaded guilty in August to a money laundering conspiracy.

He was the director of the Pan American Department of JSC Techsnabexport, or Tenex.

Tenex, based in Moscow, is a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation. It acts as the sole supplier and exporter of Russian uranium to nuclear power companies worldwide.

From 2004 to 2014, Mikerin took $2.1 million in bribes to help a U.S. company win business from Tenex, the DOJ said

Mikerin said in his plea he conspired with Daren Condrey, Boris Rubizhevsky, and others to move the bribe money from Maryland and other places in the United States to shell company bank accounts in Cyprus, Latvia, and Switzerland.

They disguised the bribe payments by using phony consulting agreements and code words like “lucky figure,” “LF,” “cake,” and “remuneration.”

Mikerin said in his plea “the funds were transmitted with the intent to promote a corrupt payment scheme that violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” according to the DOJ.

Condrey, 50, of Glenwood, Maryland, pleaded guilty in June 2015 to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. 

Rubizhevsky, 64, of Closter, New Jersey, pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit money laundering. The FBI said he was “a consultant to Mikerin.”

Condrey and Rubizhevsky haven’t been sentenced yet.

Condrey and his wife Carol were principals of Transport Logistics International (TLI), based in Fulton, Maryland.

From 1996 to 2013, Tenex paid TLI $33 million to transport uranium from Russia to the United States. 

The uranium came from a program the U.S. started with Russia in 1993 to remove unsecured nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union in exchange for cash. As much as 10 percent of the U.S. electricity supply came from Russian uranium at one point.

The DOJ dropped Condrey’s wife from the case as part of his plea deal.

The FBI began investigating Mikerin in 2007.

The DOJ couldn’t charge Mikerin with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act offenses. The FCPA targets those who bribe foreign officials but not the foreign officials who take the bribes.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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