Adamov Convicted of Stealing $30M

Itar-TassFormer Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov arriving at Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky District Court on Tuesday. He said later he would fight his conviction.
Former Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov, wanted in the United States on charges of stealing millions in U.S. funds aimed at boosting nuclear security in Russia, was convicted Tuesday of fraud and abuse of power.

Adamov faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Wednesday.

Judge Irina Vasina of Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky District Court said Adamov and two others had used their positions to steal more than $30 million from a Russian-U.S. uranium joint venture, causing "considerable damage" to the state.

The amount is more than triple the $9 million that the United States accused Adamov of stealing.

Vasina said Adamov and his co-defendants -- Revmir Fraishtut and Vyacheslav Pismenny -- had stolen 62 percent of the shares in the uranium joint venture, and she valued the shares at more than $30 million.

Adamov, Pismenny and Fraishtut operated as a "criminal group" when they embezzled the funds in 1998 and 1999, Vasina said. Adamov served as nuclear power minister from 1998 to 2001.

Pismenny is the former head of the Troitsky Institute of Innovation and Thermonuclear Research, and Fraishtut is the former director of Tekhsnabeksport, a state firm that sells enriched uranium, among other things.

Adamov, who has been out on bail since July 2006 and was free in the courtroom as the verdict was read, remained defiant. "I never took a kopek," he said outside the courtroom during a break.


Yury Mashkov / Itar-Tass
Adamov and Pismenny, center, waiting for the court hearing to start Tuesday.
He vowed to fight the conviction "until the end, until each one of us is proven innocent."

Adamov's lawyer, Genri Reznik, said he was not surprised by the verdict. "How can you be surprised in Russia?" he said.

Prosecutor Viktor Antipov expressed satisfaction. "When people who occupy such high-level positions commit such crimes, it negatively influences the image of the authorities," he said.

Antipov has asked that Adamov be sentenced to nine years, Fraishtut to seven years and Pismenny to five years.

The judge was unable to finish reading the lengthy verdict Tuesday, and she delayed the sentencing until Wednesday.

Dressed in a gray sweatshirt, dark blue jeans and black sneakers, Adamov listened attentively as Vasina quickly read page after page of the verdict in a barely audible voice. At one point, Vasina was relieved by one of the two other female judges seated beside her at the front of the courtroom.

Seated next to Adamov, Reznik looked simultaneously uninterested and impatient, staring at the table in front of him, shifting in his chair and tapping his foot on the floor.

Adamov was arrested at the request of U.S. prosecutors while visiting his daughter in Switzerland in May 2005. He faces U.S. charges of embezzling $9 million provided by the United States to improve nuclear safety in Russia. Some of the money turned up in bank accounts in Pennsylvania, U.S. prosecutors said.

Russia objected to his extradition, saying the United States wanted to coerce Adamov into giving up Russian nuclear secrets. Switzerland extradited Adamov to Russia in December 2005 after Russian prosecutors charged him with fraud and abuse of office.

In June, a Pennsylvania court sentenced Adamov's co-defendant, Mark Kaushansky, to 15 months in prison for fraud and tax evasion. Kaushansky, however, was cleared of the charge of conspiring with Adamov to steal aid money meant to boost nuclear safety in Russia -- a ruling Adamov claimed effectively exonerated him.

Margaret Philbin, spokeswoman for the United States Attorney's Office for the western district of Pennsylvania, said by telephone Tuesday that she could not immediately comment on Adamov's conviction.

But following Kaushanksy's conviction in July, U.S. prosecutors said the charges against Adamov remained in place.

Swiss prosecutors last month dropped a money-laundering investigation into Adamov's daughter, Irina Adamova. Funds frozen in connection with the three-year case were also released.

Adamov, who worked on nuclear technology sales to Iran during his tenure as minister, was dismissed in 2001 by President Vladimir Putin. At about the same time, an anti-corruption committee in the State Duma accused him of illegally setting up companies inside and outside Russia.

Adamov is the second former minister to be convicted this month. A Novosibirsk court last week found former Press Minister Boris Mironov guilty of inciting ethnic hatred but released him because the statute of limitations had expired.

Staff Writer David Nowak contributed to this report.