The verdict Friday in U.S. District Court in Maryland made Lambert, 56, of Mount Airy, the fourth person who has been convicted or pleaded guilty in the conspiracy.
“Rather than play by the rules, the defendant and his co-conspirators used shell companies, offshore bank accounts and fake invoices to conceal this corrupt scheme,” said Jonathan Lenzner, first assistant U.S. attorney for Maryland. “This guilty verdict should serve as a powerful deterrent to businesses who may ponder whether it is worth the risk to undermine the marketplace and rule of law by paying bribes or kickbacks to foreign officials.”
Lambert’s attorneys said they intend to request a possible appellate review.
“We were very disappointed that after seven days of deliberations and a jury inquiry regarding the meaning of ‘reasonable doubt’ as well as two deadlock notes, the jury on the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving week decided to render a partial and inconsistent verdict,” Lambert’s attorney William M. Sullivan Jr. said in a statement. “We plan to file the appropriate post trial motions, and request appellate review if necessary.”
The scheme centered on a Russian official and former Chevy Chase resident, Vadim Mikerin, who ultimately pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Mikerin, 60, was the director of Tenex, part of a state-owned Russian nuclear energy company, and Lambert was co-president, along with Daren Condrey, of a company that transports nuclear materials around the world.
Tenex serves as the “sole supplier and exporter of Russian Federation uranium and uranium enrichment services to nuclear power companies worldwide,” according to federal prosecutors.
Starting in 2009, Lambert and others at Transport Logistics International authorized fake invoices with inflated costs for services that were never provided to Tenex, essentially overbilling Tenex for services and using the difference for kickbacks, prosecutors said in court documents.
The money set aside as bribes payments was then wired to offshore companies in Switzerland, Cyprus and Latvia to eventually divert the money to Mikerin’s personal account as part of a scheme to ensure Lambert’s company could keep doing business with Tenex to secure business advantages, prosecutors said.
On internal company documents, Lambert and others used the words “remuneration” and “commission” to obscure the fraudulent invoices, prosecutors said. In external communications to Mikerin’s personal email account, Lambert and others coded the payments with phrases such as “lucky figure,” “LF” and “cake,” according to the indictment against Lambert.
In one case, Mikerin emailed Lambert and Condrey in September 2011 with inside information on how to win a Tenex contract over two other competitors, adding that the quote for transportation services “should include new Lucky Figures,” the indictment said. Days later, Lambert’s company sent more than $81,000 to a bank account in Latvia.
Lambert, who is set to be sentenced March 9, could face up to 45 years in prison for the seven counts on which he was convicted, though prosecutors said sentences for federal crimes tend to be less than the maximum penalty.
Condrey pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiring to commit wire fraud in 2015. Boris Rubizhevsky also helped in transferring the kickbacks and pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Condrey and Rubizhevsky were both sentenced to one year and one day in prison.