A former FBI agent has admitted guilt in connection with his association with the infamous Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. He altered his plea after federal prosecutors introduced revised charges, which were less severe, regarding his involvement in a conspiracy to breach U.S. sanctions against Russia by providing services to wealthy industrialists.
Charles McGonigal’s action on August 15, in front of a federal judge in New York City, marks the conclusion of a legal case that had taken the FBI by surprise. Prior to this, Charles McGonigal had been involved in investigating Russian influence operations for an extended period and had advanced through the bureau’s hierarchy.
The 55-year-old individual is also confronted with distinct allegations of being a foreign agent in Washington, D.C., which pertain to the tasks they undertook on behalf of Albanian authorities.
Charles McGonigal, who served as the head of counterintelligence at the FBI’s New York bureau until his retirement in 2018, initially faced more severe accusations of money laundering and breaching U.S. sanctions when a grand jury indicted him in January.
Prosecutors claimed that McGonigal and a former Russian diplomat he was linked to received payments exceeding $200,000 for performing tasks on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, a wealthy Russian magnate in the metals industry who has a history of close ties to the Kremlin. In 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Deripaska.
American officials stated that McGonigal was employed to uncover adverse details about Vladimir Potanin, who is a competing oligarch to Oleg Deripaska. Additionally, McGonigal and the ex-diplomat, Sergei Shestakov, endeavored to have Deripaska excluded from U.S. sanctions registers.
Shestakov has denied the more severe accusations that were initially brought against McGonigal.
“They tried to hide Oleg Deripaska’s participation by various methods, such as avoiding direct mentions of Deripaska in digital correspondence, employing front companies as partners in the service agreement, using a fake signature on the contract, and utilizing these same front companies for sending and receiving payments from Deripaska,” stated the Department of Justice in a press release following McGonigal’s plea.
McGonigal may face a maximum of five years in jail when his sentencing takes place in December.
The distinct legal case brought forth in Washington, D.C., by federal prosecutors revolves around tasks McGonigal purportedly undertook on behalf of a former Albanian intelligence officer, for which he received a payment of $225,000.
McGonigal is also accused of providing false information to the FBI regarding his interactions with individuals from other countries and his trips abroad during his tenure with the agency.
Deripaska is also accused of breaking U.S. sanctions by engaging in real estate transactions and a convoluted plan in which he supposedly orchestrated his girlfriend’s journey to the United States for the purpose of having two of their children born there.