Ex-FBI official pleads guilty to assisting sanctioned Russian oligarch
A former FBI special agent in charge of counterintelligence at the bureau's New York Field Office pleaded guilty on Tuesday to multiple charges in connection to working with a sanctioned Russian oligarch in 2021, the Department of Justice announced.
Driving the news: Charles McGonigal, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering as part of his agreement to provide services to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
Why it matters: Deripaska was among the dozens of people connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin who received sanctions in 2018 for meddling in the U.S. elections.
- He also was charged by the DOJ in 2022 with violating those sanctions by using three defendants "to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of services for his benefit in the United States."
Catch up quick: The Department of Justice said McGonigal helped Deripaska by agreeing to investigate one of his rival Russian oligarchs in exchange for concealed payments.
- In announcing charges against McGonigal in January, it said he was assisted by a second defendant, Sergey Shestakov, a former Soviet and Russian diplomat who later interpreted Russian for U.S. courts and government offices.
- McGonigal attempted to hide Deripaska's involvement by not naming him directly, and using shell companies and a forged signature to send and receive payments.
What they're saying: Matthew Olsen, assistant attorney general of the National Security Division, said Tuesday that McGonigal, "by his own admission," betrayed his oath to defend the Constitution through "his illicit work at the bidding of a sanctioned Russian oligarch."
- "Today's plea shows the Department of Justice's resolve to pursue and dismantle the illegal networks that Russian oligarchs use to try to escape the reach of our sanctions and evade our laws," Olsen said.
What to watch: McGonigal faces up to five years in prison for each count and is set to be sentenced by a federal district court judge on Dec. 14.