Former Senior FBI COINTEL Agent Arrested for Conspiring with Sanctioned Russian Oligarch

( – Charles McGonigal, a former special agent who was head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in New York, was arrested on Saturday and charged with violating U.S. sanctions.

McGonigal was charged with the violation of sanctions by agreeing to offer services to a sanctioned Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska. Charged alongside Sergey Shestakov (a former Russian diplomat who became a U.S. citizen and interpreter for courts and government offices), McGonigal received an indictment of five counts in Manhattan federal court.

The indictment was unsealed on Monday; both men pleaded not guilty and were released on bail.

According to New York U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, McGonigal and Shestakov “worked with Deripaska to… have his sanctions removed” and “should have known better” as public servants. He said they will continue to prosecute anyone who violates U.S. sanctions put in place “in response to Russian belligerence in Ukraine” in order to profit.

Their charges include four counts: conspiracy to violate the International Economic Emergency Powers Act, violating this Act, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and committing money laundering. Each count carries a 20-year maximum sentence of imprisonment. Shestakov was given an additional charge of making false statements, carrying a maximum of five years.

Michael J. Driscoll, FBI Assistant Director, said that the Bureau “is committed to the enforcement of economic sanctions” to protect the U.S. and its allies “against hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors.” He accused oligarchs like Deripaska of performing “global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin” including “bribery, extortion, and violence.”

McGonigal and Shestakov apparently agreed to investigate another Russian oligarch who was a rival of Deripaska in exchange for payment, which violated the sanctions imposed in 2018. They allegedly knew that their actions were in violation of the sanctions because McGonigal, while still an active agent, had knowledge that Deripaska was added to the list of oligarchs who were to be sanctioned. Both defendants also attempted to conceal Deripaska’s involvement.

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