Questions surround Russian nuclear probe despite new charges

18 January 2018 1:20pm
USA & Russian Flags

16 January 2018. By Mark Bocchetti.

The indictment of former Daher-Transport Logistics International Co-president Mark Lambert for alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act literally fills in one of the blanks in a politically charged investigation of kickbacks on the transport of Russian nuclear fuel, but a series of other questions still surround the case.

Two Ohio executives alleged to have channeled kickbacks through Daher-TLI for payment to an executive at Russian nuclear fuel supplier Tenex never have been publicly charged, nor has the US Department of Justice ever announced an enforcement action against two companies that won business from Tenex on the basis of the alleged bribes.

More revelations about the investigation may emerge on Thursday, when former Daher-TLI executive Daren Condrey will be sentenced in US District Court in Maryland for conspiracy to violate the FCPA and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Condrey, who was co-president with Lambert, has been awaiting sentencing since pleading guilty in June 2015. Another defendant, 67-year old Boris Rubizhevsky of Closter, New Jersey, was sentenced in early November 2017 to a year and a day in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

An October 2014 criminal complaint identified Rubizhevsky, Daren Condrey and his wife, Carol Condrey, as co-conspirators, but the name of a fourth was redacted. A still-pending forfeiture action against assets owned by the Condreys and Lambert, filed in August 2015, made it apparent that Lambert was the fourth suspect.

“The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued the seizure warrants based upon the FBI's probable cause showing that Transport Logistics International, Inc., Daren and Carol Condrey, Mark T. Lambert, and Vadim Mikerin engaged in a kickback scheme in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343 and 1349 wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy,” the affidavit alleged.

However, prosecutors later dismissed charges against Carol Condrey.

TLI, owned by French aerospace and nuclear company Daher, has never been charged. And on Jan. 8, the DOJ dropped its bid for forfeiture of some $569,000 in a Daher-TLI account.

A Daher-TLI spokesman declined to comment on any discussions with the Department of Justice.

Companies that profit from foreign bribery frequently are charged with FCPA violations based on the actions of executives. However, neither Daher-TLI nor Worthington Industries, which purchased Bremen, Ohio, cylinder manufacturer Westerman Cos. in 2012, has ever faced public enforcement action.

Mikerin is serving a 48-month sentence for conspiracy to commit money laundering. He allegedly issued instructions to Condrey and Lambert to channel some $2 million in kickbacks to shell companies in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland.  Lambert faces 11 counts, including conspiracy to violate the FCPA, seven counts of violating the FCPA, two wire fraud charges and one of of money laundering.

The nuclear kickback probe turned into a political football when Republicans on Capitol Hill sought to link it to allegations that Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom — the parent of Tenex — was permitted to buy a Canadian mining company that owned uranium assets in the United States because the company had made contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative.

However, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified that the two were unrelated, explaining that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States had approved the sale of the Canadian miner some two years before the kickback investigation was brought to the Maryland US Attorney's Office.

Nonetheless, the FBI once again is investigating whether there were any links between contributions to the Clinton family charity and the decision of the State Department, which was headed by Hillary Clinton, to join the multi-agency consensus to approve the sale.

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