Ex-FBI Official Pleads Guilty in Russian Oligarch Case

Charles McGonigal says he's 'deeply remorseful'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2023 2:12 PM CST
Updated Aug 15, 2023 3:09 PM CDT
Former FBI Official Accused of Shady Work With Russian
A file photo of Russian magnate Oleg Deripaska.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
UPDATE Aug 15, 2023 3:09 PM CDT

A former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to violate sanctions on Russia by going to work, after he retired, for an oligarch he once investigated. Appearing before a federal judge in New York City, Charles McGonigal, 55, said he was "deeply remorseful" for work he did in 2021 for the billionaire industrialist Oleg Deripaska. McGonigal told the judge he accepted over $17,000 to help Deripaska collect derogatory information about a rival Russian oligarch. Prosecutors said he was also trying to help Deripaska get off the sanctions list. McGonigal pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to launder money and violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the AP reports. He could face up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in December.

Jan 23, 2023 2:12 PM CST

A former high-ranking official with the FBI has been indicted and accused of improper ties with a Russian oligarch he once investigated. Charles McGonigal, 54, served as the special agent in charge of the FBI's counterintelligence division in New York until his retirement in 2018, reports the AP. In that role, he supervised the investigation of Russian oligarchs, including aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, an ally of Vladimir Putin. But McGonigal allegedly worked with Deripaska upon retirement. The New York Times reports that, among other things, the indictment alleges that he took secret payments from Deripaska in exchange for investigating a rival oligarch. That could be a violation of US sanctions.

Separately, McGonigal is accused of accepting and failing to report $225,000 in payments from a former foreign security officer with whom he traveled to Europe, per the AP. McGonigal was arrested Saturday at JFK Airport along with a Russian interpreter, Sergey Shestakov, 69. Both are charged with violating and conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, conspiring to commit money laundering, and money laundering. More details might be revealed at a court appearance on Monday.

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In the view of the Washington Post, the twin indictments against McGonigal are "a black eye for the FBI, alleging that one of their most senior and trusted intelligence officials was taking secret cash payments and undermining the bureau's overall intelligence-gathering mission." But McGonigal's attorney has a different view: "Charlie served the United States capably, effectively, for decades," Seth D. DuCharme tells the Times. "We have closely reviewed the accusations made by the government and we look forward to receiving discovery so we can get a view on what the evidence is upon which the government intends to rely." (More Russian oligarchs stories.)

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