An affidavit unsealed in federal court in Greenbelt last week shines a light on a Chevy Chase man’s alleged involvement in a wide-ranging money-laundering and extortion scheme involving the transportation of highly enriched uranium from disassembled Russian nuclear warheads.
Federal officials say in the affidavit that Vadim Mikerin, a Russian national who lives in Chevy Chase, worked as the general director of Bethesda-based Tenam, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation. In that role, he coordinated deals to sell uranium from Russian warheads to American nuclear energy providers.
Sometime in 2009, according to federal investigators, Mikerin entered into a contract with a confidential U.S. government source who later detailed the kickback scheme to U.S. Department of Energy agents and the FBI. The confidential source claims Mikerin hired his company to provide lobbying and consulting services as part of a public relations effort to support the Russian nuclear energy industry.
However, Mikerin allegedly demanded that one third to more than half of the money the company received from the contract be delivered back to him in the form of kickbacks. According to federal investigators, the kickbacks included cash payments, wire transfers and checks—many of which went to shell companies holding offshore bank accounts in Cyprus and Latvia from 2009 to 2012.
An image listing wire transfers and cash payments documented by investigators in the affidavit.
At one point, the confidential source wore a recording device during a contract negotiation meeting with Mikerin, in which Mikerin admitted that the scheme was illegal and threatened that the confidential source could be harmed for revealing the payments, according to the affidavit.
In 2011, investigators also found evidence that the owner of a Fulton nuclear materials shipping firm, Transport Logistics International, which transported uranium from Russia to the United States, was allegedly engaged in a similar kickback scheme with Mikerin.
Mikerin faces charges of money laundering and extortion, according to the affidavit.