A former high-level FBI counterintelligence agent on Monday was charged with helping a Russian oligarch avoid U.S. sanctions.
Charles McGonigal, a former special agent in charge of the FBI's counterintelligence division in New York, was charged with violating and conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and with conspiring to commit money laundering, announced Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
"BREAKING: An FBI agent who investigated the Donald Trump Russia collusion has been arrested for colluding with Russia. You can’t make this stuff up," Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, tweeted.
Michael J. Driscoll, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York field office, joined Williams in announcing the indictment against McGonigal and Sergey Shestakov, a court interpreter.
The two defendants face four counts, each count carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Shestakov also was charged with making material misstatements to the FBI, a charge carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
"[They] violated U.S. sanctions by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch," Williams said in a statement. "They both previously worked with Deripaska to attempt to have his sanctions removed, and, as public servants, they should have known better."
The two defendants were arrested Saturday evening and will be presented before Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave in Manhattan federal court on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Jennifer H. Rearden will hear the case against the two men.
"Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion, and violence," Driscoll said in a statement. "As alleged, Mr. McGonigal and Mr. Shestakov, both U.S. citizens, acted on behalf of Deripaska and fraudulently used a U.S. entity to obscure their activity in violation of U.S. sanctions.
"After sanctions are imposed, they must be enforced equally against all U.S. citizens in order to be successful. There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal. Supporting a designated threat to the United States and our allies is a crime the FBI will continue to pursue aggressively."
McGonigal, 54, had supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska, before retiring from the FBI in 2018.
Shestakov, 69, is a former Soviet and Russian diplomat who later became a U.S. citizen and a Russian interpreter for courts and government offices.
McGonigal and Shestakov in 2021 allegedly conspired to provide services to Deripaska, in violation of U.S. sanctions imposed on the oligarch in 2018.
The Treasury Department sanctioned Deripaska for having acted or purported to act on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Russian government and for operating in the energy sector of the Russian economy.
McGonigal was separately charged in federal court in Washington, D.C. with concealing $225,000 in payments he received from an outside source with whom he traveled to Europe
McGonigal was required to report to the FBI contacts with foreign officials, but prosecutors allege that he hid that from his employer as he pursued business and foreign travel that created a conflict of interest with his law enforcement duties.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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