Department of Justice prosecutors did not interview a confidential informant and main witness in a Russian nuclear industry bribery and laundering case in 2014, prior to issuing its indictments against the defendants, this reporter has learned.
This “oversight” was disclosed in a briefing by the Department of Justice to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday regarding the 2014 case against Russian nationals and co-conspirators, according to several sources directly familiar with the briefing.
William J. Campbell Jr. worked for years undercover as an FBI confidential informant. He had been blocked previously by the Obama Justice Department from relaying his collections of conversations, evidence of illegal financial transactions and intelligence to Congress. This collected evidence related to the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to win favor with the administration for the purchase of Uranium One, as well as the billions of dollars spent on closing energy deals in the U.S. market, according to his attorney Victoria Toensing, who worked in the Reagan Justice Department and was former chief counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Department of Justice lifted the gag order in October, allowing Campbell to testify to Congress about the alleged corruption and bribery involving the 2010 sale of Uranium One to Moscow and its push to penetrate America’s energy market.
DOJ officials told this reporter, in an earlier interview, it had authorized Campbell to speak to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight Committee, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which have all launched investigations.
Rep. Ron De Santis, a Florida Republican on the House Oversight Committee, told this reporter “it’s concerning why the informants information wasn’t brought to light prior” to the decision by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) voted to approve the sale of the Canadian firm Uranium One to Russia. At the time, Uranium One controlled 20 percent of American uranium mining capacity at the time of the sale and needed to be approved by CFIUS, due to the national security implications of selling an asset like uranium to a foreign state.
Interviewing a main witness is “just basic due diligence in any case,” said DeSantis, referencing the then prosecutors decision to not interview Campbell.
“It’s odd and it appears there’s something they’re trying to hide,” he added.
DeSantis said the committee will continue to gather documents and information through the end of the year. The committee will also be speaking with Campbell but no formal public hearings are expected until after the start of the new year, he added.
Toensing said her client is preparing to speak with members of Congress and she is also working with lawmakers to ensure he can deliver his testimony to the committees. She added that it is “a highly unusual” that the prosecutors didn’t interview Campbell.
“In all my years as a federal prosecutor I would not have ever filed an indictment without interviewing the main witness,” said Toensing. “I cannot imagine what the reason was for not doing so.”
Campbell was not interviewed by prosecutors with the DOJ until the Spring of 2015, his attorney added.
According to court records, Campbell was the main witness in the case against Russian national Vadim Mikerin and the co-conspirators and provided critical evidence in the criminal case against the defendants during his time as a confidential informant.
In Mikerin’s indictment, Campbell was referred to as “Victim 1” by then United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein, who now serves as Deputy Attorney General, according to the documents.
“The DOJ falsely described Mr. Campbell as a ‘victim’ in its initial indictment,” said Toensing, in an earlier interview. “The DOJ did not want the defense to cross exam Mr. Campbell about his counter intelligence activities. Those are the reasons Mr. Campbell was not utilized as a witness. The so-called ‘sources’ know so little about the case that they are not aware the agents gave him a check for over $50,000.”
Campbell provided troves of documents, briefs and evidence critical to American counterintelligence issues regarding the Russian nuclear industry at the time, Toensing added.
Mikerin was then a top official of Tenam, a 100 percent American subsidiary of Russia’s state controlled nuclear arm Rosatom. Mikerin, who had close ties to elite members of the Kremlin, had been an executive with Rosatom’s subsidiary Tenex as well, according to court records and documents. Boris Rubizhevsky, another Russian national from New Jersey, who was president of the security firm NEXGEN Security, also pleaded guilty in 2015, to conspiracy to commit money laundering. He served as a consultant to Tenam and to Mikerin. He was sentenced to prison last week along with three years of supervised release and a $26,500 fine, according to a recent Reuters report.
Mikerin was eventually arrested for a racketeering scheme that dated back to 2004, as well as fraud, extortion and money laundering but only plead guilty to money-laundering. He was sentenced to 48 months in prison in December 2015. In 2015, Daren Condrey, of Maryland, whose trucking company Transportation Logistics International, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and conspiring to commit wire fraud, according to the DOJ.
Federal court records from 2014 and 2015 also refer to Campbell as “confidential source 1,” the “contractor,” as well as the original indictments listing him as “Victim 1.”
You can reach Sara A. Carter by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Follow her on Twitter @SaraCarterDC