Sunday January 29, 2023

Ex FBI official indicted for helping Russian oligarch

Published : 24 Jan 2023, 02:12

Updated : 24 Jan 2023, 02:21

  DF News Desk

Photo taken on Aug. 15, 2022 shows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headquarters in Washington, D.C., the United States. File Photo: Xinhua.

A former top FBI official was indicted on charges of helping a Russian oligarch in violation of US sanctions on Russia, US prosecutors said on Monday, reported DW, quoting news agencies AP, Reuters and AFP.

Charles McGonigal, who formerly led the FBI's counterintelligence division in New York, is accused of receiving payments from oligarch Oleg Deripaska in exchange for investigating a rival oligarch. McGonigal was arrested on Saturday.

Deripaska was among a number of individuals sanctioned over their ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin following allegations of Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2016.

What was the former FBI agent charged with?

Before retiring from the FBI in 2018, McGonigal supervised investigations into Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska.

Prosecutors accuse the 54-year-old McGonigal of working on behalf of Deripaska in 2019 in a failed attempt to lift the sanctions imposed on him a year earlier, and for taking money to investigate a rival oligarch in 2021.

The former FBI official was charged alongside Sergey Shestakov, a former Soviet diplomat who later became a Russian interpreter. Shestakov was also arrested on Saturday.

The duo are charged with violating and conspiring to violate US sanctions on Russia, according to an FBI statement. McGonigal and Shestakov are also charged with money laundering, and conspiring to commit money laundering.

"After sanctions are imposed, they must be enforced equally against all US citizens in order to be successful," FBI Assistant Director Michael Driscoll said in a statement. "There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official," he added.

In a separate case, the FBI has also charged McGonigal on charges related to receiving $225,000 (€‎207,111) in cash "from an individual who had business interests in Europe, and who had been an employee of a foreign intelligence service," according to an FBI statement. He is further accused of concealing his relationship with said individual.

Who is Oleg Deripaska?

Deripaska is the founder of the Russian aluminum company Rusal. He was among two dozen Russian oligarchs and officials sanctioned in 2018 in the aftermath of Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The oligarch denies the accusations.

At the time, the US Department of the Treasury said that Deripaska "has said that he does not separate himself from the Russian state. He has also acknowledged possessing a Russian diplomatic passport, and claims to have represented the Russian government in other countries."

In September 2021, Deripaska was indicted for attempting to obtain US citizenship for his two children in violation of sanctions. A month later, FBI agents raided properties owned by Deripaska in New York and Washington.