SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A Georgia company and its owner pleaded guilty to evading U.S. national security laws.
Dali Bagrou pleaded guilty to Conspiracy. His company, World Mining and Oil Supply (WMO), pleaded guilty to Violation of the Export Control Reform Act, David H. Estes said, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
Bagrou faces up to five years in prison, financial penalties and three years of supervised release. Bagrou forfeited an Atlanta-area home that he bought with illegal money. The home was valued at $800,000. His company also faces five years of probation along with fines and financial restitution, according to Estes.
An unnamed Russian government-controlled company was interested in buying a power turbine from an American-based manufacturer for more than $17 million. The turbine was to be used on a deep-water drilling platform. The U.S. Department of Commerce requires a license to do so, Estes said.
“The conspirators in this case were attempting to enrich themselves by evading trade sanctions put in place to protect the national security of the United States,” Estes said. “Thanks to outstanding effort by our law enforcement partners, these defendants are now being held accountable for their violations of the law.”
The company contracted Oleg Vladislavovich Nikitin, general director of KS Engineering (KSE), a St. Petersburg, Russia-based energy company, to make the deal. Nikitin and KSE await sentencing after also previously pleading guilty to a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and avoid export regulations, according to Estes.
Nikitin said he and Anton Cheremukhin, a KSE employee, conspired with Villone, GVA, and employee Bruno Caparini, to secure the turbine for them. GVA then employed services from WMO and Dali Bagrou to get the turbine and ship it overseas, Estes said.
“The FBI and our partners will always make threats to our national security a top priority, and this conspiracy was a direct threat,” Chris Hacker said, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This was a methodical plan to undercut United States sanctions to put our goods in the hands of actors who are a direct threat to our national security.”
All parties submitted false documents stating it would be used by an Atlanta company, concealing the actual turbine’s user from both the U.S. manufacturer and U.S. government, Estes said.
All three were arrested in Hostess City in 2019 while trying to complete the deal. Villone is currently serving a 28-month prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to Conspiracy, while Nikitin and Bruno await sentencing, Estes said.