Posted 4 days ago
A former top FBI counterintelligence agent based in New York who investigated the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia in 2016 is accused of illegally working for — a Russian!
Charles McGonigal was charged with money laundering and violating US sanctions law by working for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the Justice Department said Monday.
McGonigal, who led the bureau’s NYC counterintelligence division between 2016 and his retirement in 2018, was arrested Saturday evening at JFK Airport. He pleaded not guilty to four counts in Manhattan federal court Monday and was released on $500,000 bond.
Sergey Shestakov, a court interpreter who also worked for Deripaska, was also arrested Saturday at his home in Connecticut. He pleaded not guilty to five counts Monday and was released on $200,000 bond.
As part of his bond agreement, McGonigal agreed not to leave the continental US and to turn over his travel documents. Shestakov was barred from leaving Connecticut or the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and agreed to electronic monitoring until he can hand in his passport next week.
McGonigal, 54, was also charged in a separate indictment out of Washington with concealing payments of $225,000 in cash from a former member of Albania’s intelligence service. He was scheduled to appear remotely in that case Wednesday.
Under federal law, 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.
McGonigal, who also served as the cyber-counterintelligence section chief in Washington, was one of the first FBI agents to learn that a Trump campaign official claimed that the Russians had “dirt” on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, which triggered the investigation that continued into Donald Trump’s presidency.
The 21-page New York indictment against McGonigal states that while employed by the bureau, he received then-classified information that Deripaska would be included on the list of Russian oligarchs with close ties to the Kremlin sanctioned by the US after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014.
Deripaska, the founder of aluminum giant Rusal, was added to the sanctions list in April 2018, with the Treasury Department noting he “has been investigated for money laundering, and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering. There are also allegations that Deripaska bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman, and had links to a Russian organized crime group.”
Around the same time, the indictment says, Shestakov connected McGonigal to a former Soviet diplomat who functioned as an agent for Deripaska. That person is not identified in court papers but the Justice Department says he was “rumored in public media reports to be a Russian intelligence officer.”
According to prosecutors, Shestakov asked McGonigal for help getting the daughter of Deripaska’s agent an internship with the New York Police Department. McGonigal agreed, prosecutors say, and told a NYPD contact that, “I have interest in her father for a number of reasons.” Meanwhile, the indictment says McGonigal told one of his subordinates that he wanted to “recruit” the Deripaska agent.
The agent’s daughter, the indictment says, was given “VIP treatment from the NYPD” — and claimed to a police sergeant that an unknown FBI agent had “given her access to confidential FBI files.”... (Read more)