New York Post


FBI agent who probed fake ‘Russiagate’ Trump case arrested — for helping RUSSIAN oligarch


Charles McGonigal was one of the FBI agents assigned to see if Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia — allegation­s that were proven false by the Mueller Report. Now McGonigal (above) has been arrested and charged with secretly trying to help Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (inset above) avoid American sanctions. McGonigal faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted.

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.

Sanctions game

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 thenDemocr­atic 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.”

Making connection­s

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 NYPD. McGonigal agreed, prosecutor­s say, and told an

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.”

In 2019, after he left the FBI, McGonigal was hired as a “consultant and investigat­or” by a law firm Deripaska’s agent wanted to retain to get the sanctions against his patron removed. During negotiatio­ns, McGonigal met with Deripaska and other cronies at Deripaska’s homes in London and Vienna. McGonigal and Shestakov didn’t refer to Deripaska by name but as “the individual,” “our friend from Vienna” and “the Vienna client,” court documents say.

In exchange for his efforts, McGonigal asked that the law firm send $25,000 to a company owned by Shestakov.

Efforts to “de-list” Deripaska were interrupte­d by the COVID-19 pandemic, but by the spring of 2021, McGonigal and Shestakov allegedly were in negotiatio­ns to work for Deripaska on a “non-legal matter not lawful under the [Treasury] sanctions.” In messages between the two men and Deripaska’s agent, the oligarch was again referred to by code names, including “the big guy” and “the client.”

‘Wire’ the money

Ultimately, McGonigal, Shestakov and Deripaska’s agent signed off on a deal in August 2021 that would see the men paid by a Russian bank headquarte­red in Cyprus in the form of money wired to a New Jersey company owned by a friend of McGonigal — who had received a corporate email account and a cellphone, which the FBI official used under a fake name while still employed by the bureau. According to the indictment, $51,280 was wired on Aug. 13, 2021, to the New Jersey company, an amount that was to be followed by monthly payments of $41,790 between Aug. 18 and Nov. 18, 2021.

McGonigal is charged with four counts — conspiring to violate and evade US sanctions, money laundering, conspiring to commit money laundering and conspiring to violate federal law against doing business with sanctioned individual­s. He faces a maximum of 80 years in prison. Shestakov is charged with the same offenses as well as an additional count of making false statements to investigat­ors, which carries an additional maximum of five years behind bars.

 ?? ??
 ?? ?? RUBLE TROUBLE: Former FBI agent Charles McGonigal (near right) leaves Manhattan federal court Monday after being charged with violating US sanctions law by working with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (inset).
RUBLE TROUBLE: Former FBI agent Charles McGonigal (near right) leaves Manhattan federal court Monday after being charged with violating US sanctions law by working with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (inset).
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States