Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comment from the FBI.
Authorities charged a former Special Agent In Charge of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in New York and a court interpreter with breaking sanctions to work for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
Charles McGonigal, 54, who investigated Deripaska during his FBI career ending in 2018, and U.S. citizen Sergey Shestakov, 69, were allegedly paid to investigate a rival Russian oligarch for him in 2021 and worked with his agent to conceal his involvement using shell companies and a forged signature, the office’s press release said. The U.S. government had sanctioned Deripaska in 2018 in connection with Russian government action towards Ukraine following the 2014 presidential declaration of a state of emergency there, and McGonigal and Shestakov are accused of working on his behalf the next year to have the sanctions lifted. (RELATED: Russia Reportedly Offers Citizenship To Foreigners Who Join War Against Ukraine)
Former Special Agent in Charge of the New York FBI Counterintelligence Division charged with violating U.S. sanctions on Russiahttps://t.co/krkeabMnLa
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) January 23, 2023
McGonigal is charged with conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering and conspiring to commit money laundering, while Shestakov faces those charges and one count of making false statements, according to the release. Each of their shared charges could land them 20 years in prison, while making false statements is punishable by up to five years.
“Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion, and violence. As alleged, Mr. McGonigal and Mr. Shestakov, both U.S. citizens, acted on behalf of Deripaska and fraudulently used a U.S. entity to obscure their activity in violation of U.S. sanctions,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll said, the press release reported. “There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal. ”
Deripaska told TheHill.TV in 2019 that his attorneys hired former British spy Christopher Steele, author of the infamous Steele dossier, to work on research for a case against him in London. The now largely discredited Steele dossier was a key source behind the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign for allegedly conspiring with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election and a major foundation for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications the FBI directed at former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
“The way we maintain the trust and confidence of the American people is through our work—showing, when all the facts come out, that we stuck to the process and we treated everyone equally, even when it is one of our own,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement sent to the DCNF. “The FBI will go to great lengths to investigate and hold accountable anyone who violates the law, including when the individual is an FBI employee. We hold ourselves to the highest standard, and our focus will remain on our mission and on doing the right thing, in the right way, every time.”
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