As per recent updates, Charles McGonigal is a former FBI special agent who oversaw counterintelligence in the New York City field office. His federal indictment dates back to March 2023, and it is for several charges.
Charles McGonigal sentenced to more than four years in prison on Thursday for breaking sanctions against Russia by leaving his government career to work for a Russian oligarch who was looking for information on a wealthy rival.
Judge Jennifer H. Rearden sentenced Charles McGonigal to four years and two months in prison in Manhattan federal court. Rearden claimed that Charles McGonigal had repeatedly violated sanctions intended to put economic pressure on Russia to achieve results without using military force, harming national security. FBI counterintelligence official also received a $40,000 fine and was directed to give up $17,500.
She handed down the punishment after a prosecutor portrayed McGonigal’s crime as a rapacious money-grab using the contacts he made while working for the FBI counterintelligence official to cozy up to billionaire industrialist Oleg Deripaska, a well-known Russian oligarch whom he had previously investigated.
Since 2018, Deripaska has been subject to U.S. sanctions because Russia annexed Crimea.
When allowed to speak, Charles McGonigal expressed his “deep sense of remorse and am sorry for my actions” to the judge in an occasionally shaky voice.
“I’ve betrayed the confidence and trust of those close to me, and I recognize this more than ever,” he uttered. “To win back that trust, I will fight for the rest of my life.”
Afterward, he said nothing more than “Happy holidays everybody” as he and his wife Pamela left the courthouse holding hands.
In August, Deripaska informed the judge that he had taken over $17,000 in exchange for assistance gathering negative information about a rival Russian oligarch in the business world. This was during his plea to a single count of conspiring to launder money and violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
McGonigal, according to the prosecution, was negotiating with other conspirators to be paid between $650,000 and $3 million to search for electronic files that would have revealed $500 million in hidden assets owned by the oligarch’s rival in business. McGonigal, FBI counterintelligence official was also allegedly trying to assist Oleg Deripaska in getting off the sanctions list.
Seth DuCharme, the defense attorney, argued for a sentence that did not involve jail time, pointing to McGonigal’s professional accomplishments, which included his work following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and his 1998 investigation into two deadly terrorist bombings at American embassies in Africa.
Nevertheless, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagan Scotten argued for a maximum five-year sentence, informing the judge that McGonigal was earning more than $200,000 annually before his FBI retirement and more than $850,000 annually in the private sector.
After retiring from what should have been the “crowning achievement in a distinguished career,” McGonigal held one of the most significant FBI counterintelligence official positions in the world, according to Scotten.
McGonigal’s sentence, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, is evidence that those who disobey American sanctions “will pay a heavy penalty.”
By using his high-ranking FBI counterintelligence position to get ready for his future in business, Charles McGonigal betrayed the confidence his country had placed in him. He compromised our national security after leaving government service by working with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who serves as Vladimir Putin’s go-between.
A federal court in Washington, D.C. charged Manhattan resident McGonigal separately with hiding at least $225,000 in cash that he purportedly received from an ex-intelligence official from Albania during his time as an FBI employee.
That case is scheduled for his sentencing on February 16. Reporting to prison on February 26 was Rearden’s order.
In charge of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York from 2016 to 2018, McGonigal was a special agent. Investigating Russian oligarchs, such as Deripaska, was under his supervision.
As there was proof that Deripaska had operated as a Russian presidential operative, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the sanctions imposed on him.
Charles McGonigal violated sanctions intended to put economic pressure on Russia to achieve results without using military force, according to the judge, which damaged national security.
BACKGROUND: Charles McGonigal
Prior to his retirement, McGonigal was introduced to an agent of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch connected to a Russian intelligence agency, by a former Russian diplomat. Even after learning about Deripaska’s past, McGonigal maintained his friendship with him.
After retiring, McGonigal was given access to a classified list of sanctioned oligarchs, which he subsequently used to support Deripaska.
Following his retirement, McGonigal met with Deripaska in Vienna and London and helped him find a legal firm to help him deal with US sanctions. After that, Deripaska engaged McGonigal to look into Vladimir Potanin, a rival oligarch.
Charles McGonigal tried to procure potentially harmful Potanin files from the dark web through a subcontractor, settling on a $3 million deal. In November 2021, the FBI intervened and took possession of McGonigal’s phone, thereby foiling the plan. As a result, McGonigal’s participation in these activities brought about legal consequences.