(NEW YORK) — A former top FBI official in New York has been arrested over his ties to a Russian oligarch, law enforcement sources told ABC News Monday.
Charles McGonigal, who was the special agent in charge of counterintelligence in the FBI’s New York Field Office, is under arrest over his ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who has been sanctioned by the United States and criminally charged last year with violating those sanctions.
McGonigal retired from the FBI in 2018. He was arrested Saturday afternoon after he arrived at JFK Airport following travel in Sri Lanka, the sources said.
He was charged along with a court interpreter, Sergey Shestakov, who also worked with Deripaska.
McGonigal, 54, is charged with violating U.S. sanctions by trying to get Deripaska off the sanctions list. McGonigal is one of the highest ranking former FBI officials ever charged with a crime.
McGonigal and Shestakov, who worked for the FBI investigating oligarchs, allegedly agreed in 2021 to investigate a rival Russian oligarch in return for payments from Deripaska, according to the Justice Department. McGonigal and Shestakov are accused of receiving payments through shell companies and forging signatures in order to keep it a secret that Deripaska was paying them.
Both face money laundering charges in addition to charges for violating sanctions. Each of four counts carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“The FBI is committed to the enforcement of economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, especially against hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement. “Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion, and violence.”
Driscoll continued, “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. After sanctions are imposed, they must be enforced equally against all U.S. citizens in order to be successful. There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal.”
Shestakov, 69, who was living in Morris, Connecticut, also allegedly lied to FBI investigators in November 2021 about his relationship with Deripaska. In addition to the other charges, he has been charged with one count of making false statements.
Deripaska, an aluminum magnate, was among two dozen Russians sanctioned in 2018 by the Treasury Department as punishment for “the Russian government’s ongoing and increasingly malign activities in the world,” according to Treasury officials.
The FBI searched his homes in New York and Washington in 2021.
The 55-year-old Deripaska is worth $1.7 billion, according to Forbes’ Billionaires List, though he was worth nearly $7 billion in 2018 — the same year sanctions kicked in by the U.S.
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