01.16.2018 0

A quick Uranium One indictment raises more questions

By Printus LeBlanc

Uranium One is back in the headlines, and it is creating more questions than answers. On Friday, Jan. 12, the Department of Justice announced new indictments connected to the Russian state-owned atomic corporation and regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex Rosatom. The charges shocked many, as less than one month ago the media only just learned the department was taking a fresh look at the case.

The indictment alleges Mark Lambert, the former co-president of Transport Logistics International (TENEX), a transportation company specializing in transporting nuclear materials, committed a slew of charges. The press released stated Lambert, “was charged in an 11-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud, seven counts of violating the FCPA, two counts of wire fraud and one count of international promotion money laundering.  The charges stem from an alleged scheme to bribe Vadim Mikerin, a Russian official at JSC Techsnabexport (TENEX), a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation and the sole supplier and exporter of Russian Federation uranium and uranium enrichment services to nuclear power companies worldwide, in order to secure contracts with TENEX.”

While the multiple felonies were being committed, Rosatom was in the process of acquiring a company with U.S. national security interests, Uranium One. The company is a uranium mining firm headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with operations around the world, including the U.S.

In 2009, Rosatom began the process of acquiring shares of Uranium One through a subsidiary ARMZ. In June 2010, Rosatom attempted to take majority ownership of the mining company. For the acquisition to be finalized, it must first be approved by the federal government first, specifically the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) “is an inter-agency committee authorized to review transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person (“covered transactions”), in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.  CFIUS operates pursuant to section 721 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended by the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 (FINSA) (section 721) and as implemented by Executive Order 11858, as amended, and regulations at 31 C.F.R. Part 800.”

The committee is comprised of several principals from various government agencies. The members of the committee include:

  1. Department of the Treasury (chair)
  2. Department of Justice
  3. Department of Homeland Security
  4. Department of Commerce
  5. Department of Defense
  6. Department of State
  7. Department of Energy
  8. Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
  9. Office of Science & Technology Policy

Other offices can be included, such as the Director of National Intelligence, when the situation warrants.

CFIUS investigated the transaction but found no reason to reject the deal and approved it in October of 2010. Rosatom kept acquiring pieces of Uranium One, and by January 2013 it was wholly owned by Rosatom and taken private.

For years no one paid attention to the case until Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer reported on tens of millions of dollars the Clinton Foundation was given by people involved in the deal, and the hundreds of thousands Bill Clinton was paid to give speeches to groups benefiting from the sale. The Clintons and their propaganda artists in the mainstream media dismissed the notion of pay to play as a conspiracy and insisted everything was above board concerning the Uranium One deal. Then a whistleblower came forward in October of last year.

William Campbell was an FBI informant working with officials of TENEX. Campbell was an informant for six years starting in 2008. Campbell handed over thousands of documents detailing a Russian effort to corner the market in uranium to his handlers. Campbell found evidence of illegal activity by Russian nuclear industry officials as early as 2009, a full year before the deal would go to CFIUS for approval. A few indictments would eventually be handed down, but months after the final deal to give Rosatom full control of Uranium One.

It is important to note that had any of the indictments or convictions happened before or while CFIUS was investigating the deal, the deal would have likely been canceled. Money laundering, wire fraud, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act are the exact types of crimes CFIUS is supposed to look for. Was the committee made aware of the ongoing investigation?

After Campbell came forward in October to announce he kept copies of the evidence he gathered, the House Intelligence and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees announced they would launch an investigation into the Uranium One deal. The quick indictment should raise eyebrows in the committees.

A few questions that need to be answered by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

  1. Was there new evidence? If not, why was there no indictment the first time when he oversaw the case?
  2. While he was the U.S. Attorney for the case, was there pressure from the top to hold off on indictments? Remember, William Campbell said one of his handlers hinted “politics” played a role in the decision.
  3. If there was political pressure to hold off on the investigation, why didn’t Rosestein reopen the investigation when as soon as he became Deputy Attorney General?
  4. While he was investigating the company, was Rosenstein aware Rosatom was attempting to purchase American uranium mines?
  5. Was Attorney General Eric Holder made aware of the ongoing investigation prior to the Uranium One sale being approved?

Congress needs to take aggressive action to ensure politics was not an issue during the investigation of a company purchasing 20 percent of U.S. uranium. These are serious pay to play allegations and must be appropriately investigated. We know the investigation wasn’t done the first time correctly because you don’t announce an 11-count indictment less than two months after reopening an investigation, unless the evidence was there, just never acted on.

Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at American for Limited Government.

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