Dec 14, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Ex-FBI official sentenced for assisting "Putin's henchman"

Charles McGonigal, former head of counterintelligence for the FBI New York City field office, arriving at a court house in New York in March. Photo: Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A former FBI special agent in charge of counterintelligence at the bureau's New York Field Office was sentenced to 50 months in prison on Thursday in connection to working with a sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Driving the news: Charles McGonigal, 55, pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering as part of his 2021 agreement to provide services to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

  • McGonigal was also ordered to pay a fine of $40,000, to forfeit $17,500, and sentenced to three years of supervised release, per a Department of Justice statement..

Zoom out: Deripaska was among dozens of people in Russian President Vladimir Putin's orbit who were sanctioned in 2018 for meddling in the U.S. elections. Prosecutors de

Zoom in: As an FBI official, McGonigal helped Deripaska investigate one of his rival Russian oligarchs in exchange for concealed payments, per the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York.

  • McGonigal attempted to hide Deripaska's involvement by not directly naming him, and by using shell companies and a forged signature to send and receive payments, prosecutors said.
  • McGonigal's lawyers argued he shouldn't receive prison time because he's accepted responsibility and lost his job, per Reuters.
  • They said McGonigal believed what he was doing was "consistent" with U.S. foreign policy by aiding in potentially sanctioning Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin.

What they're saying: U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement Thursday that McGonigal "violated the trust his country placed in him by using his high-level position at the FBI to prepare for his future in business."

Go deeper: U.S. sanctions, charges Russians over years-long hacking campaign

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