WASHINGTON: APCO Worldwide has been pulled into the Uranium One controversy after an FBI informant claimed the firm was hired by Russian nuclear company Tenex to influence then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton through its work with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).
The statement to lawmakers from Douglas Campbell, reported by The Hill, said that Russian officials at Tenex "expected APCO to apply a portion of the $3 million annual lobbying fee it was receiving from the Russians to provide in-kind support for the CGI."
APCO founder and executive chairman Margery Kraus denied the allegations, saying they were "totally 100% false" and that the two clients were housed in different teams in different divisions.
"The allegation here is we somehow worked for this company, for Uranium One," Kraus said. "What we did do was work for a company called Tenex that was eventually the buyer of Uranium One after we worked for them. This idea that somehow our work was to CGI was tied to Russians was ridiculous."
She added that APCO worked for CGI, as the firm does "for other organizations as part of our work here when we do pro bono work, and worked with CGI three years before and five years after this time period [when APCO worked with Tenex]."
All of APCO’s work for CGI and Tenex was publicly disclosed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the UN Global Compact, Kraus explained.
"If we were concerned about hiding stuff, I don’t know why we would have disclosed everything," she said. "What they're doing is accusing us of some pretty serious stuff that never happened."
APCO began working with the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007 and continued working for the charity until 2016, Kraus said. The work included running CGI’s press room, telling the charity’s story, and working with NGOs making commitments to CGI, she added.
The firm’s work for Tenex, detailed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in 2010 and 2011 filings, focused on promoting a new image for Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company, Rosatom. The firm assisted the company to overcome political and trade barriers, which, at the time, included an agreement about Russia selling uranium in the U.S., and to promote Rosatom and Tenex to the U.S. market. (Tenex is the U.S. affiliate of Rosatom).
The contract with Tenex was extended in 2011 for six months, adding services including comms support for Tenex and Rosatom with several U.S. federal agencies, including the Departments of Commerce and State. APCO also continued to promote business relationships and communicate with stakeholders about Tenex and Rosatom. Kraus confirmed that the firm worked with Tenex only during that 18-month period.
"I would hope people would consider the source of this info and how reputable they are and what their political agendas might be," Kraus said. "There’s usually some level of truth to allegations, but in this case there is not one iota of truth."
The acquisition of Uranium One, a Canadian uranium mining company, by Rosatom is under investigation by the House Intelligence and Oversight committees, which began in October. Part of that investigation is looking into Russian donations to the Clinton Foundation and paid speeches in Russia by Bill Clinton while the deal was going through approval by the State Department, then led by Hillary Clinton.