The former president of a Maryland-based transportation company was convicted Friday of bribing a Russian official in exchange for contracts to deliver nuclear materials to customers in the United States.
Mark Lambert, 56, of Mount Airy, Maryland, was found guilty of four counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud.
His trial in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland lasted three weeks. The jury deliberated for a week.
Lambert was formerly the president of Transport Logistics Inc. (TLI).
His sentencing is set for March 9, 2020. He faces up to five years in prison on the FCPA charges and up to 20 years for the wire fraud.
Prosecutors said he bribed an official at JSC Techsnabexport (Tenex), a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, in exchange for contracts for TLI. Tenex, based in Moscow, is the sole supplier and exporter of Russian uranium and uranium enrichment services to nuclear power companies worldwide.
The Russian official who took the bribes was Vadim Mikerin, 58, of Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Mikerin pleaded guilty in 2015 to a money laundering conspiracy. He admitted taking $2 million in bribes from TLI. In December 2015 he was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit $2.1 million.
In 2018, the DOJ charged TLI with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. The company paid a $2 million criminal fine and entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement.
In settling the case against TLI for $2 million, the DOJ cited the company’s “financial inability to pay” a higher penalty. The DOJ also said TLI received “full credit for its substantial cooperation.”
Another principal of TLI, Daren Condrey, 53, pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud. He’s still waiting to be sentenced. His case has been mainly under seal and hidden from public view.
Lambert and his co-conspirators funded the bribes to Mikerin by overbilling Tenex.
They funneled the bribe money to Mikerin by using fake invoices purportedly from Tenex to TLI. The invoices “described services that were never provided,” the DOJ said.
TLI wired payments for the phony invoices from bank accounts in Maryland to shell companies Mikerin controlled in Latvia, Cyprus, and Switzerland.
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 United States 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.
Judge Theodore Chuang presided over Lambert’s trial and will sentence him.
Lambert was represented at trial by lawyers from Pillsbury Winthrop.
According to his LinkedIn page, Lambert owns a distillery in Frederick, Maryland called the Dragon Distillery.
On the distillery’s website it says: “The founder is a Navy veteran, having served as an Arabic linguist and intelligence analyst while stationed overseas and in Maryland. He served on a number of surface and subsurface ships while stationed in Greece for five years, and participated in Operations Desert Storm/Desert Shield. He served as a senior intelligence analyst on his return to the United States.”