Former FBI Agent Charged With Taking Payments From Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  vic-eldred  •  6 days ago  •  12 comments

By:   Dylan Tokar and C. Ryan Barber (WSJ)

Former FBI Agent Charged With Taking Payments From Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska
Prosecutors say former counterintelligence agent Charles McGonigal accepted payments from Oleg Deripaska for work he did investigating a rival oligarch.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



A former high-level FBI agent was indicted on charges he violated U.S. sanctions by accepting secret payments from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska for work he did investigating a rival oligarch.

Charles McGonigal, who retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2018 after serving as special agent in charge of counterintelligence in its New York field office, was arrested Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport, federal prosecutors said.

The arrest, which occurred alongside that of a former Russian diplomat, represents an about-turn for Mr. McGonigal, who previously supervised investigations into Mr. Deripaska and other Russian oligarchs. He also had been involved in a multiyear investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The indictment of Mr. McGonigal is a rare such legal action against a former senior law-enforcement official. His prosecution comes as the Justice Department seeks to step up its efforts to investigate lawyers and others who assist Russian oligarchs, as part of the Biden administration's pressure campaign against President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.

A lawyer for Mr. McGonigal didn't respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Deripaska, a raw-materials magnate who founded Russian aluminum giant Rusal, has been a focus of prosecutors. Long suspected by the U.S. of ties to Russian organized crime, he has spent lavishly over the years to try to burnish his reputation in the West, and to obtain permission to travel to the U.S., specifically.

Mr. Deripaska has denied having links to organized crime. In Washington, he hired high-price consultants, including the late former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, and in the past threw well-attended parties at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

His efforts ran into headwinds. Though courted by some FBI agents as a possible source, the U.S. State Department repeatedly declined to issue him a visa. This year, Mr. Deripaska and other Russian oligarchs were absent from the Davos conference.

Mr. McGonigal first came into contact with an employee of Mr. Deripaska in 2018 while still at the FBI, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. After leaving the agency, he was retained by a law firm to assist in an unsuccessful effort to lift the sanctions placed on Mr. Deripaska that year.

In 2021, Mr. McGonigal and the former Russian diplomat, Sergey Shestakov, began negotiating with Mr. Deripaska's agent about working for the oligarch without the involvement of the law firm, prosecutors say. In conversations with the agent, the two men avoided naming Mr. Deripaska, referring to him instead as "the big guy" and "you know whom," according to the indictment.

Messrs. McGonigal and Shestakov were eventually retained to assist in an investigation into a rival of Mr. Deripaska, with whom the oligarch was contesting control over a large Russian company, prosecutors said. They used shell companies and other means to hide Mr. Deripaska's payments and involvement in the work, they said.

The former FBI agent hired subcontractors to complete his investigation of Mr. Deripaska's rival, an effort that led to the identification of a trove of files on the dark web that Mr. McGonigal believed would be of value to his client, prosecutors said. His investigation ended abruptly in 2021 when the FBI seized his personal devices, said prosecutors.

The indictment unsealed on Monday charges Messrs. McGonigal and Shestakov with violating and conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions imposed on Mr. Deripaska in 2018, as well as with related money-laundering charges. Mr. Shestakov, a U.S. citizen who retired from his diplomatic post in 1993 and worked as an interpreter in U.S. courts, was also charged with making material misstatements to the FBI.

A lawyer for Mr. Shestakov didn't respond to a request for comment. Both men pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court during appearances on Monday.

Ina separate case filed in Washington, a federal grand jury indicted Mr. McGonigal on charges he concealed his relationship with a former employee of an Albanian intelligence agency. Prosecutors alleged that Mr. McGonigal received more than $225,000 from that individual and hid aspects of their relationship, which they said created a conflict of interest with his duties as a top FBI official.

That former Albanian intelligence officer later served as an FBI source in a criminal investigation involving foreign political lobbying that Mr. McGonigal supervised, the Justice Department said.

In addition to Messrs. McGonigal and Shestakov, the Justice Department in recent months has brought charges against a number of individuals who prosecutors allege violated U.S. sanctions by working for Russians with ties to the Kremlin. Indictments unsealed last week charge two Russian businessmen for their work managing the operations of a yacht owned by oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. In October, prosecutors announced the indictment of a British businessman who worked as a property manager for Mr. Deripaska.

The prosecution of Mr. McGonigal is likely to be viewed as a stronger warning about the dangers of doing business with sanctioned individuals. As a former FBI agent, Mr. McGonigal was aware that the payments he received from Mr. Deripaska violated the sanctions placed on the Russian oligarch, prosecutors said Monday, at least in part because he had received then-classified information during his time in government indicating that Mr. Deripaska was soon to be sanctioned.

"If there was anyone who should know the issues raised by receiving a substantial amount of money and helping sanctioned oligarchs, it's someone like this former agent," said Brandon Van Grack, a former top official in the Justice Department's national security division.

—Alan Cullison contributed to this article.


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Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Vic Eldred    6 days ago

Oh guess what?

It turns out there was Russian collusion, but of course, not from Trump. Nope, it was an FBI agent who was a part of the Russia hoax!

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
1.1  Hallux  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    6 days ago

There are bad actors in all walks of life and one should avoid the pitfalls of painting an entire institution because of the misdeeds of one or a handful else you may paint yourself into a corner. The left has this tendency with the Men in Blue, resist doing so with the Men in Black.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
1.1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Hallux @1.1    6 days ago

Nevertheless, the whole agency needs to have a thorough investigative cleansing by the DOJ to regain its reputation.

There appears to be too many bad actors and rogue agents in the FBI hierarchy during last few years who have politicized the agency.

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Sophomore Quiet
1.1.2  afrayedknot  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1.1    6 days ago

“investigative cleansing by the DOJ to regain its reputation.”

All the way back to J. Edgar being the ‘investigative’ arm as leader of the FBI? Before that or after that? When was it ever clean enough to satisfy your request? 

 
 
 
Hallux
Junior Principal
1.1.3  Hallux  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1.1    6 days ago

The opinion 'artists' would have you believe that and they are the same folks who trash the DoJ.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
1.1.4  Ronin2  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1.1    6 days ago

Unfortunately the DOJ isn't any better than the FBI.

It would be like asking Brandon to investigate himself. Oh, wait- they already did that.

 
 
 
Snuffy
PhD Guide
1.2  Snuffy  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    6 days ago

So typical that the usual suspects are defending this by avoiding the individual and turning instead to defuse the conversation as trying to paint the entire FBI.  Here we have an investigator who was part of the Trump Russa investigation and they want to downplay the individual here by turning to ask if the entire FBI should be painted.  Amazing for the group of people who routinely lambast guns for the actions of an individual or who in years past denounced any comments about the Arab countries where the 9/11 terrorists came from by saying you cannot fault an entire people for the actions of a few.  I would say amazing but we've seen this song and dance so many times before.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Snuffy @1.2    4 days ago

It is incredible isn't it.  Believe it or not they think they've made some kind of point by doing that.

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
Professor Participates
1.3  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    6 days ago
It turns out there was Russian collusion

" Long suspected by the U.S. of ties to Russian organized crime, he has spent lavishly over the years to try to burnish his reputation in the West, and to obtain permission to travel to the U.S., specifically. Mr. Deripaska has denied having links to organized crime. In Washington, he hired high-price consultants, including the late former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole (R) , and in the past threw well-attended parties at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland."

"His prosecution comes as the Justice Department seeks to step up its efforts to investigate lawyers and others who assist Russian oligarchs, as part of the Biden administration's pressure campaign against President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine."

" McGonigal, who retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2018"

"McGonigal first came into contact with an employee of Mr. Deripaska in 2018 while still at the FBI, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. After leaving the agency, he was retained by a law firm to assist in an unsuccessful effort to lift the sanctions placed on Mr. Deripaska that year."

"McGonigal and the former Russian diplomat, Sergey Shestakov, began negotiating with Mr. Deripaska's agent about working for the oligarch without the involvement of the law firm, prosecutors say. In conversations with the agent, the two men avoided naming Mr. Deripaska, referring to him instead as "the big guy" and "you know whom," according to the indictment."

"As a former FBI agent, Mr. McGonigal was aware that the payments he received from Mr. Deripaska violated the sanctions placed on the Russian oligarch, prosecutors said Monday, at least in part because he had received then-classified information during his time in government indicating that Mr. Deripaska was soon to be sanctioned".

So Deripaska is really "the big guy".

Vekselberg and Deripaska are right wing Putin loyalists who were clearly hiring like minded right wing Americans to help them avoid or dismantle sanctions that had been placed on them. It's seems pretty clear who have been wanting sanctions removed, who have supported and welcomed Russian interference in our elections and who would make the best Russian Oligarch employees...

9b2_717trump1.jpeg

There's really no need for rightwing conservatives to pretend anymore, everyone knows who they are and can easily recognize their ideals align with the rightwing white Christian fascism embraced by Putin.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.3.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @1.3    4 days ago
everyone knows who they are

How could we ever forget that Dianne Feinstein had a driver who was a Chinese spy and Eric Swalwell was screwing a Chinese spy and Joe and Hunter Biden were selling America out to the Chinese or that Trump was innocent?

No, we will never forget!

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
2  Jeremy Retired in NC    6 days ago
Mr. McGonigal, who previously supervised investigations into Mr. Deripaska and other Russian oligarchs. He also had been involved in a multiyear investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

And we're supposed to believe that investigation wasn't biased.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3  Sean Treacy    6 days ago

Oleg Deripaska= employer of Christopher steele before Hillary. 

 
 

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