FBI informant on Uranium One Breaks Silence Today
An informant who spent years gathering information on the Russian energy and uranium market industry for the FBI, met staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight, and House Intelligence Committees on Wednesday. He gave explosive testimony on his years as an undercover informant providing information to the FBI on Russian criminal networks operating in the United States. He also contends in his testimony, and written briefs, to the FBI that Russia attempted to hide its ongoing aid to help sustain Iran’s nuclear industry, at the time the Obama administration approved the sale of 20 percent of U.S. uranium mining rights to Russia.
William D. Campbell, an American businessman, provided extensive information on other counterintelligence issues to the FBI for decades and he had also provided information to the CIA on various issues during his time overseas.
“For several years my relationship with the CIA consisted of being debriefed after foreign travel,” Campbell noted in his testimony, which was obtained by this reporter. “Gradually, the relationship evolved into the CIA tasking me to travel to specific countries to obtain specific information. In the 1990’s I developed a working relationship with Kazakhstan and Russia in their nuclear energy industries. When I told the CIA of this development, I was turned over to FBI counterintelligence agents.”
The informant’s attorney, Victoria Toensing partner at the firm DiGenova & Toensing, said the following:
“Mr. Campbell testified for over four hours until he answered every question from three Congressional committees; the Senate Judiciary, House Oversight and House Intelligence committees.
He recounted numerous times that the Russians bragged that the Clintons’ influence in the Obama administration would ensure CIFIUS approval for Uranium One. And he was right.”
The recent revelations over the past year regarding Campbell’s undercover work for the FBI, sparked a Department of Justice investigation into the Obama Administration’s handling of the sale of U.S. uranium mining assets to Russia. On Wednesday, he shared with the committee information he provided to the FBI and has in the past described his frustration with the Obama administration’s failure to stop Russia’s nuclear giant from purchasing 20 percent of American uranium mining assets.
Campbell testified before numerous Congressional members and investigators that his extensive counterintelligence work on Russia and stated that during his time as an informant, he obtained information that Russia was continuing to aid the Iranian government by providing tools and equipment necessary for the nation’s nuclear reactors, despite promises that they were not sharing such technology with Iran.
In an April 16, 2010, summary brief provided to his former FBI handlers and obtained by this reporter, he stressed his deep concerns about Tenex, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian state nuclear arm, Rosatom and its ongoing work to provide Iran with the technology needed for its nuclear reactor program.
At the time, Rosatom was seeking the approval to purchase the Canadian mining company Uranium One, which controlled roughly 20 percent of American uranium.
“TENEX continues to supply Iran with fuel through their Russian company TVEL,” stated Campbell in a 2010 brief provided to the FBI in 2010. TVEL is a Russian nuclear fuel cycle company headquartered in Moscow. “They (TVEL) continue to assist with construction consult and fabricated assemblies to supply the reactor. Fabricated assemblies require sophisticated engineering and are arranged inside the reactor with the help and consult of TVEL.”
Campbell informed the FBI of the close relationship between TVEL and TENEX, both a part of the Rosatom group. He stated in his brief that while spending time with the Russian executives from both Rosatom and Tenex, that any mention of “TVEL is a subject that is serious to all when mentioned. I do not even raise the subject of TVEL to our friends, but occasionally they speak of it and always in a guarded manner.”
In the briefs, he informed the FBI that “occasionally someone will mention having been in Iran but usually it is long after the fact.”
“His response was a smile and shoulder shrug”
And when he asked the Russians about these connections, he stated that they “occasionally speak of the relationship, i.e. equipment, consulting. I asked Vadim (Mikerin) if they felt there was a serious problem, and would they adhere to sanctions and western opinion. His response was a smile and shoulder shrug.”
But Campbell had provided the FBI with evidence of the criminal network and delivered the information to the FBI. which was monitoring his work as an informant and approving his transfer of bribery money to the Russians. Those transfers, which were made in bulk $50,000 sums and at times delivered in cash, occurred between senior executives of the American transportation company and the Russian executives connected to Rosatom. He had given the FBI irrefutable evidence showing how contracts obtained from the same Russian energy company Tenex, were based on contract bribery and other nefarious actions, he said.
Senior members of the FBI, Department of Treasury, Department of Energy and Department of Justice were also briefed on Campbell’s information and were apprised of the various facets pertaining to Russia’s acquisition of the Canadian company. In fact, Campbell had been told by his FBI handlers that his work had made it at least twice into President Obama’s classified presidential daily briefings.
“The Russians expressed a sense of urgency to secure new U.S. uranium business because they knew that the two-decades-old “Megatons to Megawatts” program would cease in 2013,” Campbell said. “Then Russia would no longer be guaranteed a market to sell recycled nuclear warhead materials as peaceful reactor fuel in the United States. I gathered evidence for the FBI by moving closer and closer to the Russians’ key nuclear industry players, including those inside the United States and high-ranking Russian officials who would visit.”
Despite the insurmountable evidence collected by Campbell, the Obama administration’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved Russia’s purchase of Uranium One in the fall of 2010.
That approval by the Obama administration gave Moscow extensive rights to buy and sell more atomic fuels.
“I was speechless and angry in October 2010 when CFIUS approved the Uranium One sale to Rosatom. I was deeply worried that TLI continued to transport sensitive uranium despite the fact that it had been compromised by the bribery scheme,” stated Campbell in his testimony to lawmakers. “I expressed these concerns repeatedly to my FBI handlers. The response I got was that “politics” was somehow involved. I remember one response I got from an agent when I asked how it was possible CFIUS would approve the Uranium One sale when the FBI could prove Rosatom was engaged in criminal conduct. His answer: “Ask your politics.”
It wasn’t until years later in 2015 that American businessman Daren Condrey, whose company Transportation Logistics International, plead guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and conspiring to commit wire fraud, according to the DOJ.
Russian national Vadim Mikerin, who was a top official of the Russian nuclear arms subsidiary Tenex and would later become president of Tenam the American subsidiary of Rosatom, was also sentenced in December 2015. Mikerin, who only plead guilty to money laundering, was arrested for a racketeering scheme that dated back to 2004. He was sentenced to 48 months in prison.
Boris Rubizhevsky, another Russian national from New Jersey, who was president of the security firm NEXGEN Security, was also involved in the conspiracy and plead guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in 2015. He served as a consultant to Tenam and to Mikerin. Rubizhevsky was sentenced to prison last year along with three years of supervised release and a $26,500 fine, according to a recent Reuters report.
And Mark Lambert, 54, a co-owner of Transportation Logistics International, was charged this month on 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,” as stated in the DOJ press release. Lambert’s charges stem from an alleged scheme to bribe Mikerin in order to secure contracts with TENEX, according to the DOJ release.
Lambert is fighting the charges, according to a Reuters report.
Campbell, whose from the South Eastern United States, founded a company in 1981 early in his career that focused on agriculture and energy consulting for foreign companies.
He was the Chief Operating Officer, and “led the company’s expansion into Europe and the Middle East,” stated Toensing.
During his time working in the Middle East in the 1980s he came into possession of information he thought would be of interest to the U.S. government and “contacted the local FBI office and presented the plans to an agent,” he relayed to congressional members.
That was the beginning of Campbell’s informant with the FBI.
In the 1990’s Campbell traveled to Kazakhstan and Russia developing relationships in their nuclear energy industries. It was at that point that the Campbell also gave began providing information to the FBI’s counterintelligence agents.
“Through my energy consulting, I began to make inroads into the Russian nuclear industry, first in Kazakhstan through Swiss contacts and then in Russia,” Campbell’s statement said. “My FBI assignments included providing information about Russian efforts to secure large swaths of Kazakh uranium in the 1990’s and again around the time former President Bill Clinton visited the region as a private citizen in 2005, accompanied by a donor to his Foundation, Frank Giustra.”
He was reimbursed for his expenses and at times receive a modest compensation for his work with the FBI, he testified.
“By far the largest and most significant payment I received was in January 2016,” he noted. “The FBI presented me a $50,000-plus check thanking and commending me for my work from 2009 to 2014 in the investigation of the Russian nuclear energy industry.”
“Putin wanted Russia to dominate the world’s uranium supply, a goal of crucial interest to the U.S. government. At the same time, the Russian companies – Rosatom and Tenex – were engaged in racketeering,” his testimony stated.
Campbell, who was using the money paid to him by the FBI for his work and expressed his frustration to the FBI over their failure to reimburse him approximately $500,000 he had spent on payments to facilitate the undercover case, Toensing added.
In January 2016 the FBI invited him to a dinner in Crystal City, Virginia, where they presented him with a check for just over $50,000 and thanked him for his work, said Toensing. A copy of the check has been obtained by this reporter.
In 2016, Campbell filed a lawsuit in Maryland federal court against the Russian nuclear entities asking for the return of the money he had to launder out of his own paychecks. His lawyers were advised by the DOJ a few days of filing the lawsuit that prosecutors in the Fraud Section of the Justice Department under then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, demanded the withdrawal the lawsuit. According to a letter, obtained by this reporter, the DOJ threatened to destroy Campbell’s reputation and prosecute him for violating a non-disclosure agreement he had signed with the FBI.
Late last year, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions lifted Campbell’s NDA agreement so he could speak to Congress about his case and involvement in the investigation.
Campbell’s Briefs and Reports
The Russians were working to secure their global expansion of the energy market and according to his briefings to the FBI on August 2011, that “the Russians are going to do what they need to do to secure their influence, whether it’s in Europe, Iran or any other part of the world…they know that nobody’s in a position to stop them… not even us…unless we want to run a huge risk of massive confrontation.”
More importantly noted Campbell, the “fuel fabricators to Iran are being flown by Russian air transport due to the sensitive nature of the equipment. Taking them overland or by sea makes no sense when they can have them inside Iran in a matter of hours.”
But by 2010, the Russian government was working diligently to get approval from the Obama administration to purchase Uranium One. They wanted to downplay their relationship with Iran and were afraid that Republicans, who were against the proposed deal, would find a way to stop the approval process.
They hired lobbying firms and sought the counsel of American experts in the energy market.
Cherly Moss Herman, currently with the United States Department of Energy but who worked as private energy consultant on environmental issues at the time, produced a detailed report for the Russian nuclear company, as previously reported.
The document Moss Herman wrote as a consultant in 2010 was for TENAM/Tenex, according to the consulting memorandum she provided to the Russian subsidiary. TENAM is a fully-owned U.S. subsidiary of Tenex, which is 100 percent owned by the Russian state-controlled nuclear Rosatom, according to public documentation.
Titled “Policy/Legislative Issues Affecting the Business Climate in the U.S. for TENAM/Tenex,” the memorandum discussed the Department of Energy’s uranium regulations. She is now employed at the DOE’s Office Nuclear Energy where she? develops sustainable fuel cycles.
The Moss October 7, 2010, report discusses the congressional atmosphere regarding uranium, specifically states that “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 ….”
Her memo outlined methods for the Obama administration to loosen U.S. restrictions on Rosatom to not only export nuclear materials but also secure billions of dollars in new uranium sales to American utilities, according to the report.
In late 2010, the Russians succeeded at doing both, while at the same time their companies were engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise on U.S. soil.
Moss Herman’s 2010 memorandum outlined “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.”
“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,” she stated.
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. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 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.”