Charles McGonigal, who once served as the head of counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York office, was charged on multiple counts Monday related to accepting payments while assigned to highly secretive cases and dealings with a Russian oligarch.

McGonigal, 58, retired from the FBI in 2018 after 22 years of service and is one of the highest-ranking FBI officials to ever be charged. He was arrested on Saturday at the John F. Kennedy Airport after returning from a trip to Sri Lanka.

Two separate indictments have been brought against the former FBI official. The first is for allegedly working with a sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Deripaska was sanctioned for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. McGonigal made efforts to get Deripaska off the U.S.’s sanction list with the help of Sergey Shestakov, an American court interpreter, who was also charged.

Reports say that the two agreed to look into another rival Russian oligarch if Deripaska paid them. They then forged signatures and used shell companies to hide the payments.


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“The FBI is committed to the enforcement of economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, especially against hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement. “Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion, and violence.”

McGonigal and Shestakov face charges of money laundering and violating sanctions which could land them in prison for up to 20 years per charge.

The second indictment against McGonigal is for receiving a $225,000 cash payment from an individual in New Jersey who had previously been employed by an Albanian intelligence agency. He allegedly worked toward making sure that the individual’s business goals were met in Europe. The charge was unsealed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C.

McGonigal pled not guilty in New York and was released on bond. He is expected to appear in a D.C. court on Wednesday by video link.

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