THE PLAYERS

The Clinton Foundation – a non-profit organization run by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.  Its mission is “to bring people together to take on the biggest challenges of the 21st century.”  They focus on areas like global health, climate change, economic development, health and wellness, and programs built to enable girls and women around the world.

Vladamir Putin and Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Rosatom from 2005 to 2016 – image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Rosatom – a Russian state-owned enterprise, and the regulatory body that controls all nuclear assets in Russia, military or civilian.  They produce 40% of the world’s enriched uranium. They acquired Uranium One in 2013, but had been working toward this goal since 2009 by incrementally acquiring the company’s shares.

Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) – a committee run by multiple agencies.  They basically are trying to figure out the national security implications of foreign businesses operating in with the U. S.  They ask themselves, “are these guys honest businessmen that we are paying fairly?  Or are there more nefarious reasons here?”  They are made up of 16 U. S. agencies and departments, headed by the U. S. Secretary of the Treasury.

Uranium One – a Canadian-based business that mines uranium.  It also operates within the United States, and was purchased by Rosatom for $1.3 billion in early 2013.  This acquisition would give the Russians control of a fifth of all uranium production capacity in the U. S.

Vadim Mikerin – the Russian director of Pan American Department of JSC Techsnabexport (TENEX), a subsidiary of Rosatom.  He was living in Maryland on a government approved work visa when he was arrested by the FBI; he would spend “…48 months in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with his role in arranging more than $2 million in corrupt payments to influence the awarding of contracts with a Russian state-owned nuclear energy corporation.”

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) – an anti-bribery provision designed to make “it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. ”  Basically, U. S. companies can’t be bribing foreign governments for their own benefit.

THE CONCERNS

An article written by The Hill’s John Solomon and Alison Spann has rekindled talk about potential wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, in regards to the illicit movement of money with the Russians.

The basic concern is that in 2010, CFIUS member Jose Fernandez voted (alongside all the other members of CFIUS) in favor of the purchase of acquiring a controlling interest in Uranium One.  Fernandez was the representative of the Department of State, run by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Their vote was one of many, and it is argued whether or not Clinton had direct involvement in this decision, though she could not have vetoed the entire deal if she wanted to.

During this time, a couple of significant things happened:

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
  • Uranium One’s chairman donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation in four separate payments.  There were other donations through the connections made by Uranium One.  Though Clinton had said she would identify all donors to her foundation, this one remained under wraps.
  • Around this time, Bill Clinton had given a speech that earned him $500,000 to Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank in Moscow.  The speech focused on the support of Uranium One stock.

Keep in mind that, while the Uranium One was not fully purchased by Rosatom until 2013, by 2010 they had already begun making moves toward this end.

Since then people have criticized the Obama administration in general for seeming to get in bed with this state-run organization Rosatom, and others have more specifically targeted Hillary Clinton in her alleged support for allowing the acquisition of Uranium One by Rosatom.  President Trump tweeted on Thursday morning that, “Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!”

THE RUNDOWN

At the center of this political conflict is Vadim Mikerin, the Russian official who was arrested by the FBI for being a part of a plot to expand Rosatom’s interests within the United States.  As a state-run organization, Rosatom’s interests would be in line with Russia’s interests.  Mikerin’s involvement included extortion, money laundering, racketeering and kickbacks (essentially bribery).  He moved money through offshore accounts and through shell companies, passing cash through yellow envelopes and depositing these large amounts of cash in different ways, including small amounts through ATMs.

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Tenex is Rosatom’s commercial arm within the United States.  The FBI determined that Mikerin, along with a key, unnamed (and now deceased) president of a prominent U. S. nuclear materials transportation company (TLI), “participated in a scheme to obstruct, delay, and affect commerce and the movement of articles and commodities in commerce by extortion.”

Here is the most important part of the affidavit, as it relates to today’s controversy: the “monetary instrument or funds involved in the transportation, transmission, or transfer represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity and knowing that such transportation, transmission, or transfer was designed, in whole or in part, to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity” (emphasis added).

So now here’s what’s happening: the FBI caught Mikerin, but where did the money he spent all that time acquiring go?  Many are seeing a correlation between Uranium One and Russia’s support of the Clintons in 2010, but empirical evidence connecting those two dots remains evasive.

Featured image from AP Images.

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