A Russian company, whose former executive was the target of an FBI investigation and who admitted to corrupt payments to influence the awarding of contracts with the Russian state-owned nuclear energy corporation, paid millions of dollars in consulting fees in 2010 and 2011 to APCO Worldwide, Inc., an American lobbying firm, to lobby the U.S. regulatory agencies. That Russian company’s parent would go on to acquire Uranium One, a Canadian company which owned twenty percent of American uranium, according to court documents, a former FBI informant and extensive interviews with law enforcement sources. According to APCO, its work was unrelated to the acquisition of Uranium One or the acquisition of American uranium.
Roughly $3 million in payments from 2010 to 2011 were made to APCO Worldwide Inc. The firm also provided in kind pro-bono services to Bill Clinton's foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, services they begin 2007, according to APCO officials who spoke with Circa and press releases from the company. In 2010, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was part of the Obama administration board that would eventually approve the sale of U.S. uranium supply to a Russian company.
According to the contract obtained by Circa, the "total fee is comprised of the fixed quarterly fee which shall be $750,000 per each of the four three-month periods of rendering Services here under during the validity period of this contract, including the 18 percent Russian VAT payable in the territory of the Russian Federation."
Long-time Clinton supporter and APCO CEO, Margery Kraus signed the continuing contract on April 12, 2010, with TENEX, as the Russian company's top executive Russian businessman Vadim Milkerin was being investigated by the FBI for kickbacks and bribery involving American companies, according to the APCO TENEX contract and court documents obtained by Circa. TENEX is a subsidiary of the the Russian state owned nuclear giant Rosatom, according to financial filings of the company.
APCO Worldwide Inc. said in a statement to Circa, "APCO was not involved on any aspect of Uranium One, or the CFIUS process relating to it. APCO Worldwide undertook activities on behalf of Tenex in 2010 and 2011 relating to civil nuclear cooperation, which APCO properly disclosed in detail at the time in public filings. Separately, since 2007-2008, APCO provided services in kind to the Clinton Global Initiative. APCO’s work for Tenex and APCO’s work for the Clinton Global Initiative were separate and unconnected, publicly documented from the outset, and fully consistent with all regulations and US law."
APCO also told Circa in the statement that "Milkerin was not involved in APCO's contract with Tenex and APCO did not have any relationship with him."
"We have never been interviewed by the FBI ... and we discovered the charges like everyone else ," an APCO official familiar with contract said.
The Clinton Foundation did not respond to numerous attempts for comment.
During the 2-year agreement, APCO promised to create and promote "a new image of State Atomic Energy Corporation 'Rosatom' as a global diversified company, leading provider of nuclear technologies and a reliable supplier for the U.S. energy market among the U.S. governmental, law-making authorities, business and financial circles, public and academic community, and also in mass media."
APCO also promised TENEX and Rosatom to support the interests of "Rosatom in the USA (reputational, political and business support), and rendering assistance in establishing efficient mutual relationships with politicians and decision makers including local and state authorities."
APCO officials confirmed with Circa Wednesday night that they did have a contract with TENEX, the subsidiary of Rosatom and at the same time they did in kind work for the Clinton Global Initiative but an APCO official said "neither had anything to do with each other and that any reference to that would be false."
At the time the contract was signed with APCO, Rosatom, and its subsidiary TENEX, was seeking approval of Secretary of State Clinton and the other 12 members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, known as CFIUS, for the sale of the Canadian company Uranium One, which controlled 20 percent of the U.S. uranium stockpile. CFIUS is an inter-agency committee which reviews business transactions involving the change of control of a U.S. business to a foreign person or entity that may have an impact on the national security of the United States.
In an interview Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, said "the Russians told us that they were interested in trying to corner the uranium market, the world uranium market, and this as certainly a stepping stone to move in that direction." He continued, "There was a federal process in place to review this transaction, to sell this uranium to Rosatom, and part of that process is determining the fitness and the suitability of that company, in this case Rosatom, to take control of this asset."
TENEX's general director, Alexey Grigoriev, signed off on the APCO contract with Kraus. An informant who aided the FBI with their four year investigation into the money laundering and kickbacks an Tenex said he had conversations with Grigoriev about APCO contract. The confidential informant, who met with Circa, is an American businessman, and is now asking the Trump administration to lift his non-disclosure agreement, so he can testify before Congress.
The FBI's confidential informant has crucial information that can tie together the extent to which the Russian's went to infiltrate and obtain American uranium supplies, his lawyer said.
"They had no idea the informant was reporting to the FBI from the beginning and the Russians let their guard down with him, assuming he was just as bad as they were," said a source, with direct knowledge of the investigation. "The Russians were very verbal about the Clintons and Obama, using racial epithet to describe Obama and how weak he was and they were confident they had the upper hand, they were sure that CFIUS would comply."
According to the source, the Russians had a two-part strategy that started as far back as the 1990s, and it was to "infiltrate the United States utility community and be able to negotiate directly with the U.S. utilities and be able to have access to people central in the U.S. government."
"The Russian's were breaking U.S. law while signing U.S. contracts with the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy to name a few," said the source. "They would be terrified if there was any threat to them losing those contracts."
“Until 2008 the deal to purchase Uranium One would have been near impossible, as Moscow was restricted from the disarmament process but congress enacted legislation which codified many provisions in the former amended Suspension Agreement and instituted import quotas through 2020,” stated a Reuters article published in 2009. Prior to 2008, U.S. anti-dumping laws had only allowed Russia to sell U.S. uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons.
U.S. electricity firms PG&E, Ameren Corp and Luminant signed deals to get more than $1 billion in uranium supplies from Russia’s state nuclear fuel exporter Tenex between 2014 and 2020, according to the 2008 deal, the article stated.
“This is a revolutionary breakthrough,” Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s state atomic energy firm, Rosatom, which controls Tenex, told reporters on May 26, 2009. These sales are carried out through U.S. uranium trader USEC Inc. “We have broken through the wall forbidding us to sell Russian fuel to the American market. After the contracts signed today, we will start new contracts,” Kiriyenko said. “This is only the beginning.”
The FBI's confidential informant claims to have crucial information that can tie together the extent to which the Russian's went to infiltrate and obtain American uranium supplies. The confidential informant, who was asked by the FBI to wear wires to record his conversations with the Russians, according to court documents obtained by Circa, continued to work with the Russian entities and was privy to conversations regarding APCO and the Clinton Global Initiative during his four years under-cover, according to sources closely connected to the confidential informant. The informant said he would provide his testimony to Congress as long his non-disclosure agreement with the FBI is lifted, his attorney Victoria Toensing told Circa.
"One of the things this story has lacked to this point is an eyewitness who saw what was going on in regard to Russian efforts to cooperate or collude with the Clintons as it pertains to this uranium deal. I think step number one, is the justice department needs to remove the gag order and allow him to speak openly," said Schweizer.
On Wednesday night, Senate Judiciary Committee's Chairman Charles Grassely made a formal request for her client to testify before his committee regarding the FBI's investigation and his role as an eyewitness after Circa and The Hill first published reports about the bureau's investigation on Tuesday.
In a formal letter, Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said the confidential informant can provide "crucial" eyewitness testimony regarding members of the Russian subsidiary and other connected players during his time aiding the FBI in the case.
“My client was providing information for a couple years before this really got voted on by CFIUS, and here’s the rub," Toensing said. "High-ranking law enforcement officials in the Obama Administration knew that there was corruption in this company and that information about the corruption in this Russian entity never made it to CFIUS, evidently, because CFIUS authorized the purchase in 2010.”
Regarding the confidential informant, Grassely stated, "it looks like at least one more person has information on that and the public ought to know about it. I think I raised enough questions with the attorney general (Jeff Sessions) yesterday," during a hearing with the Judiciary Committee.
Toensing told Circa Wednesday night, the letter from Grassley is essential and "sets up a constitutional issue, the executive branch cannot prevent somebody from giving information to the legislative branch."
Although the investigation started in 2009, neither the public nor Congress was aware until years later, and in August, 2015, Mikerin pled guilty to money laundering conspiracy involving violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to a Department of Justice press release. By the end of 2015, four defendants were indicted in the years long investigation, according to court records and a Justice Department.
“Mikerin admitted that he conspired with Daren Condrey, Boris Rubizhevsky and others to transmit approximately $2,126,622 from Maryland and elsewhere in the United States to offshore shell company bank accounts located in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland with the intent to promote the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations,” according to a DOJ press release announcing the charges against the then defendants in 2014. “Mikerin further admitted that the conspirators used consulting agreements and code words to disguise the corrupt payments.”
CORRECTIONS & UPDATES:
This article was updated to eliminate a reference incorrectly stating that APCO was the second largest lobbying firm in the United States; to correct a statement that Hilary Clinton was Secretary of State when APCO reached an agreement with the Clinton Global Initiative, which occurred a year before Hilary Clinton assumed such position; to clarify that payments to APCO were made by a Russian company rather than an individual; and to emphasize APCO’s statement that their work was unrelated to the acquisition of Uranium One by the parent company of its client. Circa regrets the errors.
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