VadimMikerin, general director of Tenam Corporation based in Bethesda, Maryland, has been charged with conspiring to commit extortion in connection with a scheme to obtain contracts from a Russian company without having to compete for the contracts.
A separate criminal complaint charges Daren Condrey and his wife Carol Condrey – principals of Transport Logistics International (TLI), based in Fulton, Maryland – and Boris Rubizhevsky – president of NEXGEN Security, a New Jersey corporation – with conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with the scheme.
If found guilty, the four defendants could each face up to 20 years in prison.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Maryland said on 31 October that the four had been charged in a “kickback scheme” to obtain contracts to transport Russian nuclear fuel to the USA. The American defendants allegedly paid more than $1.6 million in bribes to a Russian national – Mikerin – to obtain more than $33 million in “non-compete” contracts.
US Attorney Rod Rosenstein said in the FBI statement, “Kickbacks deprive honest competitors of the opportunity to compete for business, and they cheat a company of its right to faithful decisions by its employee.”
Specifically, the US investigators claim that in 2006, Mikerin conspired with the Condreys to defraud Russian joint-stock company Techsnabexport (Tenex) by granting the TLI contracts to deliver uranium fuel from Russia to the USA on a non-competitive basis.
Tenam is one of five subsidiaries of Tenex, which is a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. Tenex supplies nuclear materials and nuclear fuel cycle services worldwide.
Mikerin joined Tenam in May 2010, after nearly 20 years with Tenex.
In 1992, the USA and Russia executed an agreement to dispose of Russian highly enriched uranium from disassembled nuclear warheads and for the sale of the material, once down-blended, to US nuclear power utilities. Moscow-based Tenex was responsible for the sale and transportation of this material to the USA.
Since 1996, TLI has contracted with Tenex to transport uranium from Russia to the USA. From 2011 through 2012, Rubizhevsky served as a consultant to Tenam and to Mikerin.
“According to the complaints and supporting affidavits, the Condreys and TLI bribed Mikerin to receive lucrative, non-compete contracts from Tenex,” the FBI said. “TLI has also pursued other business ventures with Tenex for transportation under separate contracts. From at least 1996 to about 2013, the Condreys and others allegedly caused TLI to pay at least $1,692,995 in kickback payments to Mikerin in exchange for receiving over $33 million in non-competitive contracts from Tenex.”
“According to the affidavits, in November 2011, Mikerin required a middle man to accept kickback payments. Mikerin used Rubizhevsky and his company, NEXGEN Security, to serve as this middleman,” the FBI said.
The affidavits allege that the kickback payments to Mikerin were disguised as “consulting fees or other fictitious expenses,” it said. The defendants also entered into “sham contracts with offshore shell entities knowing that the payments to these entities were in fact being made to Mikerin.”
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.