Former Special Agent in Charge of the New York FBI Counterintelligence Division Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Violate U.S. Sanctions on Russia
For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Former Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the FBI Counterintelligence Division in New York, Charles McGonigal, 54, of New York City, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and to commit money laundering in connection with his 2021 agreement to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch.
According to court documents, on April 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska for having acted or purported to act on behalf of a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation and for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia affirmed the sanctions against Deripaska, finding, among other things, that OFAC’s determination that Deripaska had acted as an agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin was supported by the evidence.
“Charles McGonigal, by his own admission, betrayed his oath and actively concealed his illicit work at the bidding of a sanctioned Russian oligarch,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Today’s plea shows the Department of Justice’s resolve to pursue and dismantle the illegal networks that Russian oligarchs use to try to escape the reach of our sanctions and evade our laws.”
“After his tenure as a high-level FBI official who supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, Charles McGonigal has now admitted that he agreed to evade U.S. sanctions by providing services to one of those oligarchs, Oleg Deripaska,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “This office will continue to hold to account those who violate U.S. sanctions for their own financial benefit.”
“Charles McGonigal broke his oath to defend the Constitution and turned his back on his duty to protect the American people in favor of his own greed by working for a sanctioned Russian oligarch,” said Assistant Director Suzanne Turner of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “Every day, the men and women of the FBI protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. No matter the perpetrator, even if it’s one of our own, the FBI will go to great lengths to investigate individuals who put their own interests above U.S. national security.”
As an FBI official, McGonigal had helped investigate Deripaska and other Russian oligarchs. In 2018, while serving as SAC, McGonigal received a then-classified list of Russian oligarchs with close ties to the Kremlin who would be considered for sanctions. In 2021, McGonigal conspired to provide services to Deripaska, in violation of the U.S. sanctions imposed on Deripaska in April 2018. Specifically, following his negotiations with an agent of Deripaska, McGonigal 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 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 payment from Deripaska.
McGonigal faces up to five years in prison for each count and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI New York Field Office investigated the case, with valuable assistance provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the New York City Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hagan Scotten, Rebecca T. Dell, and Derek Wikstrom for the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case with valuable assistance provided by Trial Attorney Christina A. Clark of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.
Updated August 15, 2023
Press Release Number: 23-880