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A former top FBI agent who was involved in the Trump-Russia probe was arrested over the weekend for alleged activities with a Russian oligarch.
The Southern District of New York unsealed the five-count indictment against Charles McGonigal, former Special Agent In Charge Of The New York FBI Counterintelligence Division, and Sergey Shestakov on Monday.
The two men were charged with allegedly violating and conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”) and with conspiring to commit money laundering and money laundering. Shestakov was also charged for allegedly lying to the FBI.
The DOJ said that McGonigal, who retired in 2018, “supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska,” during his time at the FBI. Shestakov is a former Soviet and Russian diplomat who later moved to the U.S. and became a government interpreter.
The DOJ’s statement alleged:
In 2021, MCGONIGAL and SHESTAKOV conspired to provide services to Deripaska, in violation of U.S. sanctions imposed on Deripaska in 2018. Specifically, following their negotiations with an agent of Deripaska, MCGONIGAL and SHESTAKOV agreed to and did investigate a rival Russian oligarch in return for concealed payments from Deripaska. As part of their negotiations with Deripaska’s agent, MCGONIGAL, SHESTAKOV, and the agent attempted to conceal Deripaska’s involvement by, among other means, not directly naming Deripaska in electronic communications, using shell companies as counterparties in the contract that outlined the services to be performed, using a forged signature on that contract, and using the same shell companies to send and receive payments from Deripaska.
MCGONIGAL and SHESTAKOV were aware that their actions violated U.S. sanctions because, among other reasons, while serving as SAC, MCGONIGAL received then-classified information that Deripaska would be added to a list of oligarchs considered for sanctions as part of the process that led to the imposition of sanctions against Deripaska. In addition, in 2019, MCGONIGAL and SHESTAKOV worked on behalf of Deripaska in an unsuccessful effort to have the sanctions against Deripaska lifted. In November 2021, when FBI agents questioned SHESTAKOV about the nature of his and MCGONIGAL’s relationship with Deripaska’s agent, SHESTAKOV made false statements in a recorded interview.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said that both men “should have known better” and that the Southern District of New York would “continue to prosecute those who violate U.S. sanctions enacted in response to Russian belligerence in Ukraine in order to line their own pockets.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported that McGonigal was involved with the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.
He was “one of the first” FBI officials to hear the story alleging that George Papadopoulos discussed Hillary Clinton’s emails with an Australian diplomat, the report said. The FBI opened their investigation based on that alleged conversation.
McGonigal was involved in the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the report added.