An American energy consultant, now an official with the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy has produced a memorandum regarding both the acquisition of Uranium One and one of the main Russian co-conspirators under an FBI clandestine investigation.
The details and evidence contained in the memorandum dispute both the recent Congressional testimony by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the claims by other Justice Department officials made through various media outlets that the Russian nuclear industry was not connected to the sale of the Canadian firm Uranium One in 2010.
Within the over 5,000 documents and briefs, were detailed plans of Russia’s state controlled nuclear arm Rosatom, and its subsidiaries, to penetrate America’s vast energy market and its efforts to gain approval of the United States government for the eventual purchase of Uranium One. At the time, Uranium One controlled roughly 20 percent of American uranium mining capacity. In fact, the evidence obtained by the Department of Justice and FBI, starting as early as 2008 paint a much different picture than that of recent reports regarding the confidential informant, William D. Campbell Jr., and his role.
According to the documents, Campbell gained insight into Russia’s strategic plans to gain global dominance in the uranium industry and to build a closer relationship with Obama administration officials.
The documents also reveal Campbell’s extensive value to the FBI and Justice Department including a Brady collection permission order from the DOJ showing the department downloaded all of Campbell’s emails for their criminal case in 2014, which had originally been collected by the counterintelligence division. Campbell had provided highly sensitive information both related to the case, as well as other intelligence issues, to the DOJ since 2006, according to the documents.
“Without your consent, a Federal agency that wants to see your financial records may do so ordinarily only by means of lawful subpoena, summons, formal witness request, or search warrant for that purpose,” stated the Brady collection permission order, signed by Campbell and Special Agent David Gadren, with the U.S. Department of Energy.
In January 2016, several years after the indictments and prosecutions of the Russian nationals and American co-conspirators, Campbell received a check for over $51,000, a copy of the check dated Jan. 7, 2016 was obtained by this reporter. The check was given to Campbell by FBI officials at a celebration dinner in Crystal City, Virginia, were he alleges through his attorney that they thanked him for his service.
Department of Justice spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores confirmed that for “several weeks the Department has had a standing offer to Senate and House Judiciary staff for a briefing on the Mikerin matter” and confirmed the DOJ is scheduled to brief Senate Judiciary staff on November 28, and will also brief House Judiciary staff the same day.
“The Department of Justice has authorized the confidential informant to disclose to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as staff, any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market,” said Isgur Flores.
“Until the informant publicly speaks to what he knew or knows about these matters, we are unable to respond further,” she added.
Memos and emails show that Campbell also was asked directly by Rosatom colleagues to assist in overcoming U.S. political opposition to the Uranium One purchase.
At the time, the FBI was headed by director Robert Mueller, who is now the Special Counsel investigating allegations of Trump Russia collusion. Also in the chain of command was current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was U.S. Attorney for Maryland at the time, where the Russian’s nuclear arm’s American subsidiary Tenam was based. Tenam was a subsidiary of the Russian commercial company responsible for the sale and transportation of uranium to the U.S. is the Kremlin-controlled company “Tenex” and Tenex is a subsidiary of the Russian state nuclear arm, Rosatom.
As for the possibility of a Uranium One investigation, Isgur Flores said Sessions “has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in letters from Congress.”
“These senior prosecutors will report directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation, require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel,” she added.
In 2006 and 2007, Campbell was already known to the bureau but his prior work with the U.S. government has not been authorized for release. He was working as a confidential informant and he was operating as a consultant and assisting the Russians who told him they needed help in hiring “ a first class\lobbying firm in the United States,” said Victoria Toensing, a former Reagan Justice Department official and former chief counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
By July, 2009, Campbell had garnered the Russian’s trust and signed a contract with “Tenex/Rosatom,” according to his contract. It was after signing the contract and discovering the corruption inside the Russian companies that he went voluntarily to the bureau to inform them of what he believed was money laundering and bribery schemes. The Department of Justice asked him to continue working with the Russians, and in return he provided the FBI with insurmountable evidence of corruption, kickbacks and money laundering during his four years undercover.
By the time the sale of Uranium One was approved by the Obama Administration, the FBI’s investigators had already gathered substantial evidence and the bureau was also aware of Russia’s intentions to enter the U.S. energy market and its desire to purchase a stake in American uranium, the documents show.
Campbell was asked by the FBI to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that prevented him from revealing what he knew to Congress, and when he attempted to file a lawsuit last year, the Obama Justice Department threatened him with loss of freedom and that his reputation would be tainted, according to a letter written by his previous attorney in the case. He was advised to drop his lawsuit, which he did.
During Campbell’s time working as a confidential informant, he was required by the Russians to launder large sums of money to financial institutions in Cyprus, Latvia and Seychelles. With the help of Campbell, who was working solo, the FBI uncovered an extensive money Russian nuclear money laundering apparatus. He was required to launder money, from his own salary, on particular days and times when Russian money handlers would be working at the banks. If he missed a scheduled pay time for any reason his Russian counterparts would threaten him, he told his attorney. He was also required on numerous occasions to deliver cash directly to those who were being paid off, most of which he recorded on hidden cameras for the FBI.
It didn’t end there. In order to keep his cover he spent many nights with his Russian counterparts drinking, collecting information and more importantly gaining their trust. He was in his early 60s and his once unblemished driving record ended with a DUI in 2008 and two other reckless driving charges in 2010 and 2012, said Toensing, who noted they were all misdemeanors.
“However, the pressure of living a double life and being threatened by the Russians if he violated their trust took a toll,” said Toensing.
The bureau had collected thousands of pages of documentation, including daily briefs from Campbell, which documented his interactions with the Russians and their co-conspirators. He also became a crucial eyewitness to the inside workings and maneuverings of the Russian nuclear industry. His information eventually led to the successful prosecution and indictments of four players involved in the scheme, which included an American and Russian nationals, according to court documents and Toensing.
“Beginning in 2008, Mr. Campbell provided the U.S. government ample documented evidence of corruption in the Russian nuclear industry. Nevertheless, in October 2010 the Obama Administration authorized that corrupt entity to purchase a company that controlled 20% of the U.S. uranium supply,” said Toensing.
The cast of characters deep within the Russian nuclear agency also included another American businessman named Rod Fisk, whose company Transportation Logistics International, also known as TLI, was the primary transport company for Russian enriched uranium sold to the United States.
Fisk passed away in 2011, and his Vice President Daren Condrey replaced him. In 2015, Daren Condrey, of Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and conspiring to commit wire fraud, according to the DOJ.
Adding to the colorful array of Russian criminals the FBI was watching, was a Russian national named Vadim Mikerin. He was then a top official of the Russian nuclear arms subsidiary Tenex. Mikerin, who had close ties to elite members of the Kremlin, and who bragged in emails and documents about his family’s connections to current Russian President Vladimir Putin, would later become president of Tenam, the American subsidiary that began operations in 2010, according to the contract. Boris Rubizhevsky, another Russian national from New Jersey, who was president of the security firm NEXGEN Security, also pleaded guilty in 2015, to conspiracy to commit money laundering. He served as a consultant to Tenam and to Mikerin. He was sentenced to prison last week along with three years of supervised release and a $26,500 fine, according to a recent Reuters report.
Mikerin was eventually arrested for a racketeering scheme that dated back to 2004, as well as fraud, extortion and money laundering. But he only plead guilty to money-laundering. He was sentenced to 48 months in prison in December 2015.
Vadim Mikerin (image from flickr.com by Tenam USA) / Flickr
In Mikerin’s indictment, Campbell was referred to as a victim by Rosenstein, and not as a long time confidential informant with the FBI, who was also providing counterintelligence information on the Russians.
“The DOJ falsely described Mr. Campbell as a ‘victim’ in its initial indictment,” said Toensing. “The DOJ did not want the defense to cross exam Mr. Campbell about his counter intelligence activities. Those are the reasons Mr. Campbell was not utilized as a witness in 2014. The so-called ‘sources’ know so little about the case that they are not aware the agents gave him a check for over $50,000.”
Despite the wealth of information collected by the FBI during that time from Campbell, the Justice Department didn’t move forward indictments for prosecution until 2014, long after CFIUS approved the sale of Uranium One. Members of Congress and the American public were not informed in 2010 of the corruption within the Russian nuclear companies.
In one of the emails dated June, 2010 from Fisk to Campbell, which was collected as evidence by the FBI, Fisk describes Russia’s intent on expanding its Uranium market in the United States.
“The attached article is of interest as I believe it highlights the ongoing resolve in Russia to gradually and systematically acquire and control global energy resources,” said Fisk, who titled the subject line of the email ‘Russian uranium.’ The article attached to Fisk’s email, was a Reuters report in June, 2010, titled ‘Despite price falls, ARMZ confident of Uranium One shareholder approval.’
Atomredmetzoloto, known as ARMZ, is the mining arm of Rosatom. On June 8, 2010, Uranium One announced it had signed an agreement that would give “not less than 51%” of the company to JSC Atomredmetzoloto, or ARMZ.” Uranium One has two licensed mining operations in Wyoming that amount to about “20 percent of the currently licensed uranium in-situ recovery production capacity in the U.S,” according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Fisk noted in the email to Campbell that he had spoken with a senior executive of Uranium One, saying, “I spoke with a senior Uranium One executive (the company was formed in South Africa and I know the former Chairman and some of the senior personnel) and he said that corporate management was not even told before the announcement was made.”
Fisk stressed concerns regarding Rosatom’s plans to acquire Uranium One, saying “several have said confidentially that they will support the sale to ARMZ, get their $1.06/share payout, sell their shareholdings and then resign. The premium of a dollar per share, on a stock-price of just over two dollars per share, is also pretty strange.”
In an Oct. 6, 2010, email with the subject line “ARMZ + Uranium One,” Fisk forwarded a news article outlining Republican efforts to derail the sale of Uranium One, stating “the referenced article may present a very good opportunity for Sigma (Campbell’s company) to try and remove the opposing influences, if that is something you can do.”
Campbell eventually helped the FBI prove that Fisk’s company, which had gained approval to transport low and high enriched uranium, had been compromised by the Russian energy company Rosatom and its Tenex arm, according to court documents. The FBI discovered that Fisk, and later another TLI executive, Condrey, had been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to a Tenex official to keep their transportation contracts. The FBI and Justice Department also discovered that the scheme dated back to 2004, raising concerns among US intelligence officials and other senior officials in the U.S. government that TLI, which was moving enriched uranium, had been or could be compromised.
“This is not just about bribery and kickbacks but about a U.S. company that was transporting yellow-cake for the Russians with our approval,” said the U.S. intelligence official, who asked not to be named due to the nature of their work. “This should raise serious questions. At the time everyone was concerned about Russia’s ties to Iran, we still are. And of course, Russia’s intentions and reach into the U.S. energy market.”
In early 2010, Russian nuclear executives, who were worried that Congressional members would find a way to block Moscow’s push into the U.S. energy market, told Campbell to hire an American nuclear expert as a consultant.
The Russian’s recommended Cheryl Moss Herman, who was then working as a freelance consultant, to help navigate the politically charged issues surrounding the purchase of Uranium One and Russia’s vested interest in American energy, according to numerous documents reviewed by this reporter.
Moss Herman, who is now an official with the United States Department of Energy, produced a detailed report in 2010 for TENAM/Tenex when she was a private energy and environmental consultant. TENAM is a fully-owned U.S. subsidiary of Tenex, which is 100 percent owned by the Russian state-controlled nuclear company Rosatom, according to public documentation.
Moss Herman could not be reached for comment. Despite numerous calls, the DOE declined to comment on Moss Herman or if she had “DOE access authorization.” DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told this reporter “the department does not comment on personnel matters.”
The memoranda written by Moss Herman, titled “Policy/Legislative Issues Affecting the Business Climate in the U.S. for TENAM/Tenex,” discussed the Department of Energy’s uranium regulations, congressional opposition to Russia’s purchase of Uranium One and how Russia’s relationship with Iran could plague potential deals.
The memorandum was also meant to provide the Russian nuclear executives with “the current status, including background information, and discussion on a few key issues that could affect the business climate for TENAM/Tenex’s directly and also introduces a number of other issues that could also have an impact on the nuclear business climate in the United States.”
She stated, “some Republicans truly fear the entry of Russia into the U.S. market, as demonstrated by the fact that they are taking steps to block the purchase of Uranium One by Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ).”
Moss Herman warned the then Russian nuclear executive, Mikerin, that there was significant congressional opposition to Russia, due to its relationship with Iran, in her memorandum. She stated, “any proposal to approve the 123 Agreement would be met with resistance from some, especially House Foreign Affairs Ranking Republican Member Ros-Lehtinen, who remains concerned about Russia’s engagement with Iran.”
“There are some in Congress who believe that Russia is providing Iran with sensitive nuclear technology as well as the nuclear know-how that will allow it to proliferate a nuclear weapons program, despite Russian Government statements to the contrary,” said Moss Herman. “Based on these concerns, broad Iran sanctions legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives, with bipartisan support, in April 2009.”
Moss Herman said in her report to Mikerin, “this effort bears watching as it may provide clues as to the likely political reaction if a Russian entity was going to participate in the construction and operation of a uranium enrichment plant in the U.S.”
In the report, Moss Herman says that the new revised Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010, are not as stringent.
“Although the earlier legislation included a prohibition on the entry into force of a 123 Agreement with any country that conducts nuclear business with Iran, the most recent version of CISADA (Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010), which was codified into law, does not include such a prohibition.”
The new law would allow the president to determine if “the provision of such similar nuclear material, facilities, components, or other goods, services or technology to such other country does not undermine the nonproliferation policies and objectives of the United States,” Moss Herman wrote.
At the end of October 2010, several weeks after Moss Herman wrote her report for the Russian entities, the Uranium One deal was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS.) CFIUS is an inter-agency committee that reviews transactions that would lead to a change of control of a U.S. business to a foreign person or entity that may have an impact on the national security.
When Campbell asked his FBI handlers why the sale of Uranium One was approved, he told his attorney that they responded “ask your politics.”
Richard Painter, Chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, told this reporter in an earlier interview regarding Moss Herman that although no apparent laws were broken when working working as a consultant for the Russians prior to Moss Herman’s work with the U.S. government, there is a strong ethical argument that consultants who have worked for foreign entities “could pose a significant problem when dealing with national security interests.”
“We live in a different world now with concentrated wealth in Russia, Saudi Arabia and China,” Painter said. “When you’re dealing with uranium, it’s a national security interest.”
Last week, Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-FL, pressed Sessions, on the approval of Uranium One, stressing that the FBI had evidence from Mr. Campbell as early as 2009, that some of the companies and Russian’s connected to the nuclear arm were involved in “bribery, kickbacks and money laundering.” Rep. DeSantis, questioned whether the FBI or any member of DOJ informed the Obama administration of the case, before the administration approved the sale.
Sessions side-stepped the question, responding “the way I understood that matter was that Mr. Mikerin was convicted, was not connected to the CFIUS problem that occurred two to three years before.”
And Rep. Jim Jordan, also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly asked Sessions if a second special counsel would be appointed to investigate Uranium One.
But Sessions, whose office had written a formal letter this month stating it would investigate whether a Special Counsel would be necessary, seemed to suggest the DOJ would need more reasons to do so.
Sessions told Jordan that just because it “looks like” it is worthy of the appointment of a Special Counsel “is not enough basis to appoint one.”
Isgur Flores said the “Attorney General’s testimony is accurate. The criminal case in which Mikerin was convicted and the factual and legal requirements needed to make that case did not address the CFIUS matter.”
After Campbell’s gag order was lifted last month by the Department of Justice, allowing him to testify to Congress about his contribution to the case, several Justice Department officials, who formerly commended Campbell, have spoken on background to other news agencies disparaging Campbell and his work at that time.
In a story by Michael Isikoff, published on Yahoo, a DOJ official involved in the case stated that Campbell was a “disaster” as a potential witness and that “there was no question that Campbell’s credibility was such that the prosecutors had to restructure the case,” the source said. “He got cut out of the case entirely.” It is important to note that Campbell was going through 35 intense radiation treatments after being diagnosed with cancer during his time with the FBI, according to hospital records.
After years of effective reporting and working in harms way, the cancer diagnosis and treatment had a profound effect on Campbell’s ability to interact in the final stages prior to the indictments, said Toensing.
Campbell also wrote letters of commendation for the FBI handlers he had been working with throughout the operations, Toensing said.
She said her client is ready to present Congress with all he knows and called the stories a “smear job.”
“This is what the left do-provide false talking points to compromised reporters who are willing to regurgitate whatever they are fed,” said Toensing.