The Justice Department has lifted a gag order on a former FBI informant who had been blocked from speaking to congressional investigators about a 2010 deal that allowed a Kremlin-backed company to gain control of a substantial amount of America’s uranium supply.
Two House committees opened investigations into the controversial deal this week, but said a key informant was unable to discuss the matter because he was bound by a confidentiality agreement with the Justice Department.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, DOJ spokesman Ian Prior said the the informant was authorized to disclose to the congressional leaders of three committees “any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market, including but not limited to anything related to Vadim Mikerin, Rosatom, Tenex, Uranium One, or the Clinton Foundation.”
The Republican chairmen and ranking Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and limited staff members were all cleared to speak with the informant.
Lawmakers have sought to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the U.S. approval of the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One, which had some U.S. mining assets, to Russia’s atomic energy giant Rosatom.
The State Department and eight other U.S. agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the deal, but lawmakers have questioned to what end officials were informed at the time of the FBI’s investigation into bribery, kickbacks and money laundering within the Russian nuclear industry.
Four years after the deal was approved, the Justice Department criminally charged Mikerin, an executive for the Russian nuclear firm Tenex, a subsidiary of Rosatom. Mikerin pleaded guilty in money laundering in which U.S. authorities said he arranged for more than $2 million in bribes to be paid in exchange for lucrative no-bid uranium trucking contracts.
The Hill reported that the informant’s work helped secure Mikerin’s conviction.
The congressional investigations could also have implications for Hillary Clinton, who served as secretary of state at the time the deal was made.
The New York Times reported in 2015 that at least one individual involved in the transaction donated some $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Those donations weren’t publicly disclosed by the Clintons despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had with the Obama White House to identify all donors to the foundation.