SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — An Italian company pleaded guilty to scheme to avoid U.S. national security laws, according to a federal court in the Southern District of Georgia.
The company, GVA International Oil and Gas Services (GVA), violated the Export Control Act, David H. Estes said, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. GVA faces up to five years of probation, fines and financial restitution. The owner of GVA, Gabrielle Villone, is currently serving nearly two and half years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy in the case, USA v. World Mining and Oil Supply et. al.
“This conspiracy represents a tangled web of deceit designed to allow Russian interests to evade United States trade sanctions,” Estes said. “With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to hold accountable those who would threaten our nation’s security.”
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 company contracted Oleg Vladislavovich Nikitin, general director of KS Engineering (KSE), a St. Petersburg, Russia-based energy company to secure the purchase. Nikitin and KSE await sentencing after they had also previously pleaded 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 World Mining and Oil Supply (WMO) of Dacula, Ga., and Dali Bagrou to pick up the turbine and ship it overseas.
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.
Nikitin, Villone, and Bagrou were attempting to complete the transaction when they were arrested in Savannah. Bagrou remains in custody awaiting pending legal action.