Russian nuclear official pleads guilty in US bribery plot

Russian-American businessman Alexander Fishenko pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling sensitive US microelectronics for Moscow, the Justice Department said (AFP Photo/Ramin Talaie)

Washington (AFP) - A Russian nuclear official pleaded guilty Monday to a US charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering in a case involving $2.1 million in bribes for contracts with a Moscow-controlled company.

The US Justice Department said Vadim Mikerin, 56, was representing Russian nuclear materials trader Tenex in the United States when he helped transfer funds to offshore shell accounts that came from US companies aiming to sell services to Tenex and its parent, Russian's State Atomic Energy Corporation.

The department said the payments, made between 2004 and 2014 for contracts to transport Russian uranium, violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Those making the payments were not identified. But the department pointed to a Maryland transport firm and two Ohio companies, now merged, involved in making pressure vessels for the nuclear industry, and to American individuals linked to the companies.

Mikerin "admitted that the corrupt payments were made by conspirators to influence Mikerin and to secure improper business advantages for US companies that did business with Tenex," the department said in a statement.

Mikerin is scheduled to be sentenced in December. Two other men in the scheme pleaded guilty in June and will be sentenced separately in October and November.