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Former top FBI official charged with violating Russia sanctions

A former top FBI official has been charged with violating U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Charles McGonigal, who was in charge of counterintelligence in the FBI’s New York field office, was arrested for violating U.S. sanctions against Russia over his work with Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch. He was charged along with a court interpreter, Sergey Shestakov, who also had ties to Deripaska.

Both men were charged for violating sanctions by taking payments from Deripaska, according to the FBI, in exchange for investigating a rival Russian oligarch.

Deripaska was charged last year with violating U.S. sanctions.

“They both previously worked with Deripaska to attempt to have his sanctions removed, and, as public servants, they should have known better,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement. “This Office will continue to prosecute those who violate U.S. sanctions enacted in response to Russian belligerence in Ukraine in order to line their own pockets”

The indictment against McGonigal details how he supervised and participated in the investigation of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska.

The indictment claims that McGonigal and Shestakov agreed to investigate a rival Russian oligarch for Deripaska in exchange for payment. It also claims that the duo were actively trying to conceal the identity of Deripaska when negotiating the deal.

The FBI alleges that the two attempted to conceal Deripaska’s involvement by “not directly naming Deripaska in electronic communications, using shell companies as counterparties in the contract that outlined the services to be performed, using a forged signature on that contract, and using the same shell companies to send and receive payments from Deripaska.”

Deripaska is a billionaire industrialist in Russia, and was sanctioned along with dozens of others in 2018. His homes in New York and Washington were searched by the FBI in 2021, according to ABC News.

Deripaska is worth $1.7 billion, according to Forbes.

McGonigal, 54, and Shestakov, 69, were arrested on Saturday, the FBI said.

The two were charged with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), one count of violating the IEEPA, one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, and one count of money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Shestakov is also charged with one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. 

Tags FBI official Oleg Deripaska Russian sanctions
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