Former top FBI official Charles McGonigal arrested in the charged of money laundering

Former FBI Director Charles McGonigal has been arrested in connection with his ties to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Former FBI official Charles McGonigal: According to law enforcement sources, a former top FBI official in New York has been arrested for his ties to a Russian oligarch.

Charles McGonigal, the special agent in charge of counterintelligence in the FBI’s New York Field Office, has been arrested in connection with his ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who has been sanctioned by the US and criminally charged with violating those sanctions last year.

McGonigal stepped down from the FBI in 2018. According to the sources, he was arrested Saturday afternoon after arriving at JFK Airport from Sri Lanka.

McGonigal pleaded not guilty to the four-count indictment, which was unsealed in Manhattan on Monday.

The judge ordered him released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond, with travel restrictions and a prohibition on contacting anyone involved in the case.

Charles McGonigal money laundering case.
Caption: In this June 4, 2021 file photo Oleg Deripaska listens during a panel session in St. Petersburg, Russia, Image; Getty Image.

Sergey Shestakov, a court interpreter who also worked for Deripaska, was also charged.

McGonigal, 54, is accused of violating US sanctions by attempting to remove Deripaska from the sanctions list. McGonigal is one of the most senior former FBI officials to have been charged with a crime.

According to the Justice Department, McGonigal and Shestakov, who worked for the FBI investigating oligarchs, allegedly agreed in 2021 to investigate a rival Russian oligarch in exchange for payments from Deripaska. McGonigal and Shestakov are accused of receiving payments through shell companies and forging signatures to conceal Deripaska’s payments.

Both face money laundering charges in addition to sanctions violations. Each of the four counts carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

“The FBI is committed to enforcing economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, particularly against hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll in a statement. “Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska wield global malign influence for the Kremlin and are linked to bribery, extortion, and violence.”

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Driscoll went on to say, “According to the allegations, Mr. McGonigal and Mr. Shestakov, both US citizens, acted on Deripaska’s behalf and fraudulently used a US entity to conceal their activity in violation of US sanctions. To be effective, sanctions must be applied equally to all US citizens after they are imposed. There are no exceptions, not even for a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal.”

McGonigal later worked for Deripaska through a law firm that represented the Russian oil tycoon after leaving the FBI.

According to the indictment, he earned at least $25,000 working as a “investigator” for the law firm on the Deripaska case.

McGonigal then worked directly for Deripaska, receiving an initial payment of $51,000 and monthly payments of $41,790 from August 2021 to November 2021.

According to the indictment, he told friends he was working for “a rich Russian guy” and that his work was legal. McGonigal and Shestakov frequently referred to Deripaska as “the big guy” and “you know whom” in discussions about him.

A separate case against McGonigal was unsealed Monday by the US Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., on charges that he received $225,000 in cash from an individual with business interests in Europe who McGonigal knew was an employee of a foreign intelligence service.

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According to the nine-count indictment, between August 2017 and September 2018, prior to his retirement from the FBI’s New York Field Office, McGonigal concealed from the bureau his relationship with this unidentified former foreign intelligence officer, all while traveling abroad and meeting foreign nationals. The individual is described as an Albanian national who worked for a Chinese energy conglomerate.

The individual later “served as an FBI source in a criminal investigation involving foreign political lobbying,” which McGonigal oversaw.

During a court appearance in Manhattan on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wikstrom stated that McGonigal would appear virtually Wednesday before a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to be arraigned on charges of stealing $225,000 from an Albanian businessman.

In this April 22, 2022 file photo, the Federal Bureau of Investigation seal is shown at the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, D.C.

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McGonigal’s lawyer has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment. Shestakov, 69, of Morris, Connecticut, allegedly lied to FBI investigators about his relationship with Deripaska in November 2021. He has been charged with one count of making false statements in addition to the other charges.

Deripaska, an aluminum magnate, was one of two dozen Russians sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2018 as punishment for “the Russian government’s ongoing and increasingly malign activities around the world,” according to Treasury officials.

In 2021, the FBI raided his homes in New York and Washington.

According to Forbes’ Billionaires List, Deripaska is worth $1.7 billion, but he was worth nearly $7 billion in 2018 – the same year the United States imposed sanctions.