Ex-FBI official worked for sanctioned Russian oligarch, prosecutors say

NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) – A former top FBI official was arrested over the weekend for working for sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, prosecutors said on Monday.

Charles McGonigal, who headed the agency’s counterintelligence division in New York before retiring in 2018, faces four counts including sanctions violations and money laundering.

Manhattan federal prosecutors say McGonigal, 54, received hidden payments from Deripaska, who was sanctioned in 2018, in exchange for investigating a rival oligarch in 2021. He is also accused of unsuccessfully pushing in 2019 to the lifting of sanctions against Deripaska.

“Once sanctions are imposed, they must be applied equally against all American citizens to be successful,” FBI Deputy Director Michael Driscoll said in a statement. “There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal.”

A lawyer for McGonigal did not immediately respond to a request for comment. McGonigal is scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court later Monday along with Sergey Shestakov, a former Soviet diplomat who later became a US citizen and also charged in the case.

Deripaska, the founder of Russian aluminum company Rusal (RUAL.MM) was among two dozen Russian oligarchs and government officials blacklisted by Washington in 2018 in response to alleged Russian interference in 2016 U.S. elections. Deripaska and the Kremlin have denied election interference.

Lawyers for Deripaska and Shestakov did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

The arrest comes as U.S. prosecutors step up efforts to impose sanctions on Russian officials and their wealthy private sector allies to pressure Moscow to end its war in Ukraine. The Kremlin describes its activities in Ukraine as a “special military operation”.

Deripaska was charged last September with violating sanctions against him by arranging for his children to be born in the United States. Deripaska is free.

The following month, US prosecutors charged British businessman Graham Bonham-Carter with conspiring to violate sanctions by attempting to move Deripaska’s artwork to the United States overseas. Bonham-Carter challenges extradition to the United States.

Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York, editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Luke Cohen

Thomson Reuters

New York Federal Courts Reports. Previously, he worked as a correspondent in Venezuela and Argentina.

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