Charles McGonigal, a former senior counterintelligence official at the FBI’s New York field office, admitted guilt on Tuesday for breaching U.S. sanctions. He assisted a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, gather information on a business rival.
During his twenty-year career with the FBI, McGonigal specialized in investigating Russian oligarchs. He retired in 2018 and subsequently negotiated a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York. He confessed to a count of money laundering and conspiracy.
While serving as an FBI official, McGonigal investigated Deripaska and other Russian oligarchs. In 2018, during his time as SAC, he received a then-confidential list of Russian oligarchs who had close connections to the Kremlin and were under consideration for sanctions.
A violation occurred in 2021 when McGonigal plotted to render services to Deripaska, in direct contradiction to the U.S. sanctions enacted against Deripaska in April 2018.
Expressly, after engaging in talks with a representative of Deripaska, McGonigal consented to and investigated a competing Russian oligarch in exchange for hidden payments from Deripaska. Additionally, he attempted to have Deripaska removed from the U.S. sanctions list.
The offense, which could result in a maximum prison term of five years, originated from a 2021 plot to circumvent U.S. sanctions on behalf of Deripaska, a prominent aluminum businessperson and an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams commented on Tuesday, stating, “Charles McGonigal, who once played a significant role in the FBI’s investigation of Russian oligarchs, has now confessed to breaking U.S. sanctions by rendering services to one of those oligarchs, Oleg Deripaska.”
Charles McGonigal’s actions, to choose personal gain over sworn duty to protect the American people and defend the Constitution, demonstrate a betrayal of his commitment by working for a Russian oligarch under sanctions. While most of the men and women in the FBI are dedicated to safeguarding the American people and upholding the Constitution, the agency will not hesitate to thoroughly investigate anyone, even one of their own, who prioritizes their interests over U.S. national security.
McGonigal’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14. He is also dealing with another legal matter concerning his acceptance of $225,000 in undisclosed payments from an ex-Albanian intelligence officer during his time with the FBI.