An FBI agent suspected of collaborating with a Russian oligarch allied to Putin has been arrested | International
Charles McGonigal had a long and prestigious career as head of the FBI’s anti-espionage service in New York until his retirement. This weekend, he was arrested, accused of helping in exchange for money one of the Russian oligarchs he investigated for years: Oleg Deripaska, a magnate for years very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
McGonigal, 54, who retired from the FBI in 2018, investigated a rival Deripaska oligarch while still working for the federal agency, for which he received covert payments, according to the charge sheet released Monday in Washington. In total, he is suspected of one count of violation of US sanctions, two of conspiracy and one of money laundering.
Deripaska, a man who has made his immense fortune in the aluminum sector, was in Putin’s inner circle, though he seemed to fall out of favor when last summer he called the war a “colossal mistake” and the authorities opened various proceedings against him to expropriate close to a billion euros in assets. The United States considers him suspected of money laundering, blackmail and illegal wiretapping. In 2022, the FBI accused him of violating the sanctions imposed by Washington against Russia.
The tycoon was related to Paul Manafort, who for a few months in 2016 led the electoral campaign of Donald Trump. Manafort was convicted of fraud, though Trump pardoned him in the final weeks of his presidency. “Mr. McGonigal betrayed his solemn oath to the United States for his personal benefit and at the expense of our national security,” alleges FBI Assistant Director Donald Alway.
According to the charge sheet, the official – who was responsible, among other things, for investigating possible violations of US sanctions by Russian magnates – collaborated between 2017 and 2018 with a person who had been an agent of the secret services of a foreign country and then had business in Europe. She traveled with him, received cash payments and never reported his relationship to the FBI.
After leaving the federal agency, he began working with Deripaska; with a collaborator of the tycoon, Sergei Shestakov, a Russian nationalized American who worked as a translator in the New York courts; and with a third person. Shestakov, the third person and the former official tried to hide Deripaska’s involvement through forged signatures, the use of shell companies and other means.
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The attorney for the southern district of New York, Damian Williams, has indicated that McGonigal and the interpreter “violated US sanctions by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch under US sanctions.” “Both had previously collaborated with him to try to get the sanctions lifted and, as public officials, both should have been aware of what they were doing,” argues the Prosecutor’s Office.
McGonigal began working for the FBI in 1996. Initially, he was assigned to the New York office, where he investigated Russian counterintelligence services and organized crime. He also worked on the investigations into the terrorist attacks against the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and the attacks of September 11, 2001. After having directed the coordination section of the agency to fight against foreign cyber espionage, in the Bureau headquarters in Washington, he was named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in New York in 2016.
“The FBI is committed to the application of economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, especially against the hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors. Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska exert global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are linked to acts of violence, extortion and bribery.”
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