Maryland firm fined $2M for bribing Russian nuclear official for uranium contracts

A Fulton-based specialized trucking company will pay a $2 million criminal penalty for bribing a Russian nuclear official for uranium-shipping contracts.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Transport Logistics International Inc. entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve the case, which charged the company with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s anti-bribery provisions.

“Bribery of foreign officials not only distorts markets and undermines democratic institutions; it can also pervert the incentives of those who are in a position to safeguard the public, as it did in this case involving the transportation of nuclear material,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan in a statement.

“Today’s resolution, along with the related charges against the corporate executives and the Russian official in this matter, underscore the department’s continued commitment to holding both companies and individuals accountable for their roles in corruption-related crimes and for breaching the public’s trust,” he said.

Transport Logistics was founded in 1998 as a logistics company specializing in nuclear cargo and became part of the DAHER Group, a French industrial conglomerate, in 2009. It has a presence in 14 countries.

The Fulton company handled shipments for a U.S.-Russian program known as “Megatons to Megawatts.” Under the program, the United States began accepting shipments of uranium in 1993 from decommissioned Russian nuclear warheads. Shipments passed through the port of Baltimore and were delivered via truck to commercial reactors in the United States for use as fuel.

The program officially ended in 2013, but U.S. and Russian officials then contracted to continue bringing in the nuclear material.

Court documents say Transport Logistics conspired to pay more than $1.7 million to offshore bank accounts associated with shell companies in Switzerland, Cyprus and Latvia. The beneficiary was Vadim Mikerin, a Maryland-based official with TENEX, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-controlled nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, that supplies uranium products.

Officials said the scheme began in at least 2004 and continued for at least a decade. The bribes were concealed through fake invoices from TENEX to Transport Logistics describing services that were not provided. All involved Transport Logistics employees were fired. Mikerin and Transport Logistics’ former co-presidents Daren Condrey and Mark Lambert also were charged in connection with the scheme.

Condrey and Mikerin pleaded guilty to conspiracy-related charges in 2015. Lambert’s conspiracy-related charges are pending in U.S. District Court in Maryland.

The company said it had no comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
37°