The US Senate Judiciary Committee has launched a probe into a Russian nuclear bribery case, demanding several federal agencies disclose whether they knew the FBI had uncovered the corruption before the Obama administration in 2010 approved a controversial uranium deal with Moscow.
The committee had sent requests for information to 10 federal agencies involved in the Russian uranium approvals, as Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, prepares to question the Attorney General Jeff Sessions on October 18.
In 2010, President Obama’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which at the time included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave approval to Russia’s Rosatom to buy a Canadian mining company called Uranium One that controlled 20 percent of America’s uranium deposits.
In 2009 and 2010, FBI had uncovered evidence allegedly showing Russian nuclear officials were engaged in a scheme involving bribes, kickbacks and money laundering designed to expand Russian atomic energy business on US soil, but Department of Justice did not press any charges until 2014, thereby letting the deal go through.
The senator also specifically stated that he no longer accepts the Obama administration’s assurances from 2015 that there was no basis to block the Uranium One deal. “I am not convinced by these assurances,” Grassley wrote the Homeland Security Department last week. “The sale of Uranium One resulted in a Russian government takeover of a significant portion of US uranium mining capacity. In light of that fact, very serious questions remain about the basis for the finding that this transaction did not threaten to impair US national security.”
“The fact that Rosatom subsidiaries in the United States were under criminal investigation as a result of a US intelligence operation apparently around the time CFIUS approved the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction raises questions about whether that information factored into CFIUS’ decision to approve the transaction,” the chairman added.