Former FBI counterintelligence agent indicted for aiding Russian oligarch: US

A former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official who investigated Russian oligarchs has been indicted on costs he secretly labored for one, in violation of U.S. sanctions. The official was additionally charged, in a separate indictment, with taking money from a former overseas safety officer.

Charles McGonigal, the particular agent accountable for the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York from 2016 to 2018, is accused in an indictment unsealed Monday of working with a former Soviet diplomat-turned-Russian interpreter on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire they purportedly referred to in code as “the big guy” and “the client.”

McGonigal, who had supervised and took part in investigations of Russian oligarchs, together with Deripaska, labored to have Deripaska’s sanctions lifted in 2019 and took cash from him in 2021 to analyze a rival oligarch, the Justice Division stated.

The indictment is a black eye to the FBI at a time when the bureau has develop into entangled in separate politically charged investigations involving the dealing with of categorized paperwork by each President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, and as newly ascendant Republicans in Congress have pledged to analyze high-profile selections by the bureau and Justice Division.

McGonigal and the interpreter, Sergey Shestakov have been arrested Saturday — McGonigal after touchdown at John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport and Shestakov at his dwelling in Morris, Connecticut — and held at a federal jail in Brooklyn. McGonigal pleaded not responsible Monday and was launched on $500,000 bail. Shestakov was additionally anticipated to be arraigned Monday.

McGonigal, 54, and Shestakov, 69, are charged with violating and conspiring to violate the Worldwide Emergency Financial Powers Act, conspiring to commit cash laundering and cash laundering. Shestakov can be charged with making materials misstatements to the FBI.

Messages in search of remark have been left for attorneys for McGonigal and Shestakov. Legal professionals for Deripaska didn’t instantly return an e mail in search of remark Monday.

McGonigal was individually charged in federal courtroom in Washington, D.C. with concealing no less than $225,000 in money he allegedly obtained from a former Albanian intelligence official whereas working for the FBI.

The indictment doesn’t cost or characterize the fee to McGonigal as a bribe, however federal prosecutors say that, whereas hiding the fee from the FBI, he took actions as an FBI supervisor that have been geared toward his personal monetary profit.

They included proposing {that a} pharmaceutical firm pay the person’s firm $500,000 in change for scheduling a enterprise assembly involving a consultant from the U.S. delegation to the United Nations.

In a bureau-wide e mail Monday, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated McGonigal’s alleged conduct “is entirely inconsistent with what I see from the men and women of the FBI who demonstrate every day through their actions that they’re worthy of the public’s trust.”

The U.S. Treasury Division added Deripaska to its sanctions listing in 2018 for purported ties to the Russian authorities and Russia’s power sector amid Russia’s ongoing threats to Ukraine.

In September, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Deripaska and three associates with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions by plotting to make sure his little one was born in the USA.

Shestakov, who labored as an interpreter for federal courts and prosecutors in New York Metropolis after retiring as a diplomat in 1993, helped join McGonigal to Deripaska, in accordance with the indictment.

In 2018, whereas McGonigal was nonetheless working for the FBI, Shestakov launched him to a former Soviet and Russian diplomat who functioned as Deripaska’s agent, the indictment stated. That individual shouldn’t be named in courtroom papers however the Justice Division says he was “rumored in public media reports to be a Russian intelligence officer.”

Based on the indictment, Shestakov requested McGonigal for assist getting the agent’s daughter an internship within the New York Police Division’s counterterrorism and intelligence models. McGonigal agreed, prosecutors say, and advised a police division contact that, “I have an interest in her father for a number of reasons.”

Based on the indictment, a police sergeant subsequently reported to the NYPD and FBI that the lady claimed to have an “unusually close relationship” with an FBI agent whom, she stated, had given her entry to confidential FBI recordsdata. The sergeant felt it was “unusual for a college student to receive such special treatment from the NYPD and FBI,” the indictment stated.

After retiring from the FBI, in accordance with the indictment, McGonigal went to work in 2019 as a marketing consultant and investigator for a global regulation agency in search of to reverse Deripaska’s sanctions, a course of often called “delisting.” The regulation agency paid McGonigal $25,000 by way of a Shestakov-owned company, prosecutors say, although the work was in the end interrupted by elements such because the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, in accordance with the indictment, Deripaska’s agent enlisted McGonigal and Shestakov to dig up grime on a rival oligarch, whom Deripaska was combating for management of a giant Russian company, in change for $51,280 up entrance and $41,790 monthly paid by way of a Russian financial institution to a New Jersey firm owned by McGonigal’s pal. McGonigal stored his pal in the dead of night concerning the true nature of the funds, prosecutors say.

McGonigal can be accused of hiding from the FBI key particulars of a 2017 journey he took to Albania with the previous Albanian intelligence official who’s alleged to have given him no less than $225,000.

As soon as there, in accordance with the Justice Division, McGonigal met with Albania’s prime minister and urged warning in awarding oil area drilling licenses within the nation to Russian entrance corporations. McGonigal’s Albanian contacts had a monetary curiosity in these selections.

In an instance of how McGonigal allegedly blurred private achieve with skilled obligations, prosecutors in Washington say he “caused” the FBI’s New York workplace to open a felony lobbying investigation through which the previous Albanian intelligence official was to function a confidential human supply.

McGonigal did so, prosecutors allege, with out revealing to the FBI or Justice Division his monetary connections to the person.


Eric Tucker reported from Washington. Jim Mustian and Larry Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.

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