Russian National Pleads Guilty in European Bank Bribe Plot

  • Dmitrij Harder admits payoffs to help oil and gas firms
  • Harder's clients secured EBRD financing for bribes, U.S. says

A Russian national who worked as a consultant pleaded guilty in Philadelphia to bribing an official at a European development bank to secure financing for two oil and gas companies that were his clients.

Dmitrij Harder, 43, admitted Wednesday that he paid $3.5 million in bribes from 2007 to 2009 to an official at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, according to a Justice Department statement. In exchange, the EBRD approved applications for financing for two clients of Harder’s company, Chestnut Consulting Group Inc., according to prosecutors.

One client got an $85 million investment and 90 million Euro loan from the EBRD, while the other obtained a $40 million investment and $60 million convertible loan, prosecutors said. Chestnut Group earned an $8 million success fee, prosecutors said. 

Harder, a legal permanent resident of the U.S., who lives in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That U.S. laws bars corporate employees or their agents from paying bribes to government officials to obtain or retain business or to secure an improper advantage. 

The EBRD official, Andrey Ryjenko, and his sister Tatjana Sanderson, have also been charged by the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service, according to prosecutors.

Harder’s attorney Ian Comisky declined to comment on the plea.

The case is U.S. v. Harder, 15-CR-001, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

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