Former top FBI counterintelligence agent Charles McGonigal charged with violating Russia sanctions

A view of the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building, where the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a field office on the 23rd floor, November 4, 2016 in New York City.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

The former top FBI agent for counterintelligence in New York has been arrested with a former Russian diplomat and charged with violating U.S. sanctions on Russia by providing services to the oligarch Oleg Deripaska, federal prosecutors announced Monday.

The ex-agent, Charles McGonigal, is charged with another man, former Soviet and Russian diplomat Sergey Shestakov, in a five-count indictment, which also accuses them of money laundering.

The 21-page indictment in U.S. District Court in Manhattan says the men tried to get sanctions on Deripaska, who McGonigal previously had investigated while at the FBI, lifted in 2019, a year after McGonigal retired from the agency.

A senior law enforcement official told NBC News that there is a second criminal case against McGonigal, which will allege that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from a former foreign intelligence official while serving in the FBI.

McGonigal, 54, was arrested Saturday night at JFK International Airport in Queens, New York. He and his co-defendant, Shestakov, a 69-year-old who most recently worked as an interpreter for federal courts and prosecutors, are due to appear in court later Monday.

Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska reacts in front of the office of Gorkovsky Automobile Plant (GAZ) in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia April 16, 2019.

Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

McGonigal retired from the FBI in 2018. His LinkedIn profile says he currently works as a senior vice president at commercial real estate giant Brookfield Properties.

The indictment says that in 2021, McGonigal and Shestakov agreed to and did investigate a rival Russian oligarch of Deripaska in return for concealed payments from Deripaska. Those alleged payments violated sanctions that the United States imposed on Deripaska in 2018, the indictment says.

McGonigal knew his alleged actions violated the sanctions, having received what was then-classified information about Deripaska being added to the list of sanctioned oligarchs.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said McGonigal and Shestakov “violated U.S. sanctions by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch.”

“They both previously worked with Deripaska to attempt to have his sanctions removed, and, as public servants, they should have known better,” Williams said. “This Office will continue to prosecute those who violate U.S. sanctions enacted in response to Russian belligerence in Ukraine in order to line their own pockets.”

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