Before the Obama administration approved a highly controversial deal in 2010 giving Russia control of approximately 20% of U.S. uranium, the FBI had collected a significant amount of evidence which showed that Russian officials were engaged in a massive bribery scheme aimed at growing their atomic energy business inside the United States.
According to a Tuesday report from The Hill, the FBI started gathering evidence in 2009 of Russian officials engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering:
Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.
They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.
The first decision came when the State Department and other government agencies approved the sale of the Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom in October 2010, which gave the Russians control of a significant portion of U.S. uranium. In 2011, the Obama administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants – a significant move as it allowed Tenex to expand its sales which were heavily restricted under the Megatons to Megawatts peace program from the 1990s.
“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns,” a source who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials. “And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions.”
The evidence collected by the FBI directly contradicts prior statements by the Obama administration and the Clintons about the Uranium One deal.
The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.
But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.
Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.
After the Uranium One deal was approved, Uranium One’s chairman donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Bill Clinton also appears to have benefited financially as he received $500,000 for a speech he gave in Moscow shortly after Rosatom made the announcement that they were taking control of Uranium One.