Former FBI Agent Charged With Violating Russian Sanctions

January 23, 2023

The former top FBI agent for counterintelligence in New York was charged Monday with violating U.S. sanctions against Russia for his alleged dealings with oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Charles McGonigal was charged in federal court in Washington DC in connection with accepting $225,000 in cash from a foreign intelligence service. McGonigal was still working for the FBI at the time. 

The incident allegedly occurred in 2018 following a series of sanctions levied against dozens of people connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin for interfering in U.S. elections. Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska was among them.

The Department of Justice says McGonigal, who would retire from the FBI in 2018, conspired with another defendant to provide services to Deripaska that same year—Sergey Shestakov, a former Soviet and Russian diplomat who later interpreted the Russian language for U.S. courts and government offices. The pair were charged with a total of five counts, including conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, conspiring to commit money laundering and committing money laundering.

The investigation was negotiated and agreed through electronic communications with an agent working on behalf of Deripaska. That party used shell companies and a forged signature to create a contract that outlined the services as well as to receive the payments from Deripaska.

The DOJ said both McGonigal and Shestakov were aware they were violating U.S. sanctions because they had previously attempted to have those sanctions against Deripaska lifted.

Shestakov was also charged with making false statements in a recorded interview with FBI agents, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The 55-year-old Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate, is currently worth $1.7 billion, according to Forbes’ Billionaires List. However, he was worth nearly $7 billion in 2018 when the U.S. sanctions kicked in.

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