Former FBI officer arrested for taking money from former foreign agent in violation of sanctions against Russia

Federal prosecutors allege that the former head of counterintelligence at the FBI’s New York office laundered money, violated sanctions against Russia while working with a Russian oligarch, and while still at the FBI, took hundreds of thousands of dollars from a foreign citizen and former foreign intelligence officer.

Charles McGonigal, 55, was arrested Saturday after arriving at New York’s JFK airport on a flight from the Middle East.

The case, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., alleges that while working as a special agent in charge of FBI counterintelligence in the New York office, McGonigal received $225,000 in cash from a person with business interests in Europe who was an employee of Foreign Intelligence Service.

From August 2017 until his retirement in September 2018, McGonigal allegedly hid his relationship with the former foreign security officer from the FBI. It is alleged that he requested and received cash from this person and traveled abroad with this person.

“Mr. McGonigal betrayed his solemn oath to the United States in exchange for personal gain and at the expense of our national security,” said FBI Deputy Acting Director Donald Elway.

New York federal prosecutors allege that since retiring from the FBI in 2018, McGonigal worked with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, Deripaska’s associate Sergei Shestakov and a third party to investigate a rival Russian oligarch in exchange for payments from Deripaska.

According to prosecutors, McGonigal, Shestakov and a third party tried to cover up Deripaska’s involvement through shell companies, forged signatures and other means.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said: “Charles McGonigal, a former senior FBI official, and Sergei Shestakov, a court interpreter, allegedly violated U.S. sanctions by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch. They both had previously worked with Deripaska to try to get sanctions lifted from him, and as civil servants they should have known better.”

The story goes on

FBI Deputy Acting Director Michael J. Driscoll said, “The FBI is committed to enforcing economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, especially against hostile acts by a foreign government and its actors. Russian oligarchs such as Oleg Deripaska exercise global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion and violence.”

On Monday afternoon, McGonigal pleaded not guilty to the New York charges and was released on $500,000 bail.

Before his statement, Seth DuCharme, McGonigal’s attorney, said: “Charlie has served the US effectively for decades. … We look forward to the evidence.”

The Ministry of Finance sanctioned Deripaska for “acting or intending to act on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a high-ranking official of the government of the Russian Federation and for activities in the energy sector of the economy of the Russian Federation.” Branch. In 2022, New York federal prosecutors accused Deripaska of violating sanctions.

Given McGonigal’s ties to the FBI’s Washington and New York offices, the Los Angeles field office has been conducting a two-year investigation, according to three senior law enforcement officials. The decision to move the investigation to Los Angeles was made to ensure there were no conflicts of interest or competing interests among agents who might have known McGonigal.

In a statement Monday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau is committed to holding accountable anyone who has broken the law, including its own employees.

“The way we maintain the trust and confidence of the American people is in our work—showing, when all the facts come up, that we stick to the process and treat everyone the same, even if it’s one of us,” Ray. said. “The FBI will do its best to investigate and prosecute anyone who breaks the law, including when that person is an FBI employee.”

McGonigal’s career included a stop as chief of the FBI’s cyber and counterintelligence program coordinator at the FBI’s covert Intelligence Technology and Data Division (ITADD) in Chantilly, Virginia, as well as his position in New York City, public records show.

McGonigal was appointed Special Agent in Charge of the Counterintelligence Division of the New York Field Office in 2016 after serving as Chief of Cyber ​​Counterintelligence Coordination at FBI Headquarters.

McGonigal joined the FBI in 1996 and was first assigned to the New York branch, where he worked with Russian foreign counterintelligence and organized crime.

During his time in New York, he worked on the investigation of TWA Flight 800, was assigned to the task force investigating scientist Wen Ho Lee, investigated the 1998 terrorist attacks on the US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and investigated the events of September 11, 2001. of the year. , terrorist attacks.

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