According to authorities, a former senior FBI officer was detained over the weekend on suspicion that he had connections to the sanctioned Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska.
Prior to his retirement in 2018, Charles McGonigal oversaw the agency’s counterintelligence section in New York. He is currently charged with four charges, including money laundering and sanctions violations.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan say that McGonigal, who is 54 years old, took secret money from Deripaska, who was punished in 2018, in exchange for looking into a rival oligarch in 2021. He is also accused of trying in vain to have Deripaska’s sanctions lifted in 2019.
In a statement, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll said, “After sanctions are put in place, they must be enforced equally against all US citizens for them to work.” “There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal.”
An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by a lawyer for McGonigal. Later on Monday, McGonigal and Sergey Shestakov, a former Soviet official who later acquired US citizenship and was also charged in the case, are anticipated to appear in federal court in Manhattan.
In 2018, the US government banned twenty Russian billionaires and government officials for allegedly meddling in the 2016 US election. Among them was Deripaska, the founder of the Russian aluminum corporation Rusal (RUAL.MM). Both Deripaska and the Kremlin have denied interfering in elections.
Requests for comment on Monday were not immediately answered by the attorneys for Deripaska and Shestakov.
The arrest comes as US prosecutors step up their efforts to put sanctions on wealthy Russian business allies and government officials in order to put pressure on Moscow to stop the war in Ukraine. Its actions in Ukraine are described by the Kremlin as “special military operations.”
Deripaska was accused of breaking sanctions last September by arranging for his children to be born in the United States. Deripaska is untraceable.
The British businessman Graham Bonham-Carter was accused by US authorities of plotting to break sanctions by attempting to ship Deripaska’s American artwork abroad the next month. The extradition of Bonham-Carter to the US is being resisted.