Investing.com -- A Russian nuclear energy official pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering on Monday in connection with his role in arranging more than $2 million in corrupt payments to influence the awarding of contracts from the Russian-state owned nuclear energy company to businesses in the U.S..
Vadim Mikerin, 56, Chevy Chase, Maryland pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of conspiracy to commit laundering in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Mikerin previously served as the president of Tenam Corporation, a subsidiary of Tenex, a Russian provider of uranium enrichment services to nuclear power companies worldwide.
For a period of more than 10 years beginning in 2004, Mikerin and two co-conspirators allegedly plotted to send funds from accounts in Maryland to shell accounts in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland through October, 2014. Mikerin admitted the corrupt payments were made to secure improper advantages for companies that conducted business with Tenex.
Last November, Mikerin was placed under arrest for allegedly accepting bribes of more than $1.6 million in exchange for arranging contracts involving the transport of radioactive material from Russia to the U.S. in excess of $33 million. At the time, U.S. investigators accused Mikerin of conspiring with Daren Condrey of Transport Logistics in Fulton, Md. to deliver uranium to the U.S. companies on a non-competitive basis. Mikerin later admitted to transferring more than $2.1 million to the shell accounts located outside the U.S.
As part of the scheme, the conspirators used code such as "lucky figure," "LF," and "cake" in an effort to disguise the transfer of corrupt payments. In March, 2012, Mikerin sent an email to one of his co-conspirators stating that "a channel for lucky figures has been confirmed so you will get an invoice for $48,089.30 tomorrow," according to court filings. Two days later, a wire transfer in the same amount was sent from an account in Maryland to a bank account in a shell company in Latvia.
Mikerin faces a maximum of five years in jail and a fine of $250,000 for the conviction. He is scheduled to be sentenced at a hearing in U.S. District Court in early-December. As part of the plea agreement, Mikerin also agreed to repay the illegal kickback of $2.1 million that he allegedly received through the course of the scheme.
In July, the general director of Tenex told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the company expects to control 40% of the global uranium market by 2030.
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