Former high-level FBI agent charged for aiding Russian oligarch : NPR

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The FBI seal is displayed on a podium. A former FBI agent is facing multiple charges related to his work with a Russian oligarch.

Jose Luis Magana/AP


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Jose Luis Magana/AP

The FBI seal is displayed on a podium. A former FBI agent is facing multiple charges related to his work with a Russian oligarch.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

A former high-level FBI agent is facing multiple charges for his alleged work with a sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Charles McGonigal, the former special agent in charge of counterintelligence at the FBI’s New York office, is accused of working with Oleg Deripaska, who has been on the US sanctions list since 2018 .

McGonigal’s involvement with the Russian billionaire involved taking secret payments to investigate one of Deripaska’s rivals. He also worked to get Deripaska off the US sanctions list, in violation of federal law, prosecutors said.

Sergey Shestakov, an American citizen who is a a former Soviet and Russian diplomat and federal court interpreter, is facing charges along with McGonigal. Prosecutors allege that Shestakov, 69, and McGonigal worked together to help Deripaska.

“As alleged, Charles McGonigal, a former high-level FBI official, and Sergey Shestakov, a court interpreter, violated US sanctions by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch,” said the – American lawyer Damian Williams in a statement. “Both of them previously worked with Deripaska to try to get his sanctions lifted, and, as public servants, they should have known better. This Office will continue to prosecute those who violate US sanctions enacted by ‘reaction to Russian belligerence in Ukraine in order to line their own pockets.’

Russian businessman and founder of RUSAL company Oleg Deripaska in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 17, 2022.

Dmitri Lovetsky/AP


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Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

Russian businessman and founder of RUSAL company Oleg Deripaska in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 17, 2022.

Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

Prosecutors say McGonigal, 54, he was well aware that his work with Deripaska broke the law. The former FBI agent had worked in Russian counterintelligence, organized crime, and counterespionage during his more than 20 years with the agency. At one point he even investigated Deripaska, along with other Russian oligarchs. McGonigal officially retired in 2018.

The United States has sanctioned Deripaska that same year for “acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation.” Deripaska was also criminally charged last September for trying to evade those very sanctions and obstruction of justice.

Deripaska is the wealthy founder of an aluminum company in Russia and has ties to the country’s President Vladimir Putin. He had also previously worked with Paul Manafort, former President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.

The federal indictment unsealed Monday charges McGonigal and Shestakov each with one count of conspiracy to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), one count of violation of the IEEPA, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of money laundering. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Shestakov faces an additional charge of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, prosecutors said.

No attorney was listed for Shestakov or McGonigal in court records.

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