In Savannah this week, a Russian national and his engineering company have admitted to charges that they violated U.S. national security laws.
This, according to a press release that staff at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia published on their website this week.
Oleg Vladislavovich Nikitin, general director of KS Engineering (KSE), a St. Petersburg, Russia-based energy company, pled guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to evade U.S. export regulations and to defraud the United States, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
“The charge was brought in a third superseding indictment, USA v. World Mining and Oil Supply et. al, alleging Nikitin and his co-defendants conspired to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (ECRA),” according to the press release.
“As a result of the plea entered before U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker, Nikitin faces up to five years in federal prison and substantial fines and forfeitures, followed by up to three years of supervised release.”
Estes said in the press release that “Nikitin attempted to evade trade sanctions designed to protect the United States from illegal acquisition of industrial equipment by non-aligned powers” and threatened national security.
“As described in court documents and testimony, Nikitin and KSE admitted conspiring with others to evade U.S. trade sanctions that prohibited export of equipment that could make ‘a significant contribution to the military potential or nuclear proliferation of other nations, or that could be detrimental to the foreign police or national security of the United States,’” the press release said.
“The conspiracy began when an unnamed Russian government-controlled business contracted with Nikitin and KSE to purchase a power turbine from a U.S.-based manufacturer for approximately $17.3 million. The Russian company intended to use the turbine on a Russian Arctic deepwater drilling platform, expressly prohibited by the U.S. Department of Commerce without first obtaining a license.”
According to the press release, Nikitin admitted that he and another KSE employee, Anton Cheremukhin, conspired with Gabrielle Villone and his Italian-based company, GVA International Oil and Gas Services (GVA); and GVA employee Bruno Caparini, to obtain the turbine on their behalf. Villone, Caprini and GVA then employed the services of Dali Bagrou and World Mining and Oil Supply (WMO) of Dacula, Georgia to procure the turbine from a U.S.-based manufacturer and to have the turbine shipped overseas.
“The parties conspired to conceal the true end user of the turbine from both the U.S. manufacturer and the U.S. government by submitting false documentation that stated it would be used by a U.S. company in and around Atlanta,” the press release said.
“Nikitin, Villone, and Bagrou were all arrested in Savannah, Ga., while attempting to complete the illegal transaction. Villone was sentenced in June 2020 to 28 months in prison after pleading guilty to the conspiracy. Bagrou remains in custody pending further legal action, and is considered innocent unless and until found guilty in court.”
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