U.S. News

New Jersey man sentenced for role in Russian uranium bribe scheme

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A New Jersey man was sentenced on Monday to a year and a day in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with his role in arranging bribes for the awarding of contracts with Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Boris Rubizhevsky, 67, of Closter, New Jersey, was sentenced to prison along with three years of supervised release and a $26,500 fine by U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang for the District of Maryland, the department said in a statement.

Rubizhevsky pleaded guilty to the money-laundering conspiracy charge in June 2015. He was accused of acting as an intermediary in connection with bribes to co-conspirator Vadim Mikerin, a former nuclear official of Russia’s state-run enterprise Rosatom, the statement said.

Mikerin, former president of a U.S.-based Rosatom subsidiary, pleaded guilty in 2015 to helping orchestrate more than $2 million in bribe payments through secret accounts in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland.

Between October 2011 and February 2013, Rubizhevsky and Mikerin agreed to conceal bribes paid from the United States to overseas bank accounts, including a payment to an account in Latvia, the statement said.

Mikerin was sentenced in December 2015 to 48 months in prison for his role in the money-laundering scheme.

Authorities have said those payments went to Russian nuclear energy officials in exchange for contracts to U.S. companies involved in the shipment of uranium from Russia. Attorneys for Rosatom have said Mikerin acted alone.

Mikerin oversaw the shipment of uranium from Russia for use in American power plants. Much of that material was drawn from decommissioned Russian weapons under an agreement with Washington known as the “Megatons to Megawatts” program, which converted the uranium from thousands of nuclear warheads for civilian use in U.S. nuclear power plants.

At one point, the arrangement fueled 10 percent of U.S. electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Daren Condrey, the former owner of Transport Logistics International, pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiring to make bribe payments to Mikerin in exchange for uranium shipping contracts. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime to bribe overseas officials to win business.

Mikerin’s arrest followed a seven-year investigation that began as a U.S. intelligence probe into Russian nuclear officials, according to court records and people familiar with the matter.

Reporting by Eric Walsh; Additional reporting by Joel Schectman; Editing by Peter Cooney and Lisa Shumaker