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Former Special Agent in Charge of the New York FBI Counterintelligence Division Sentenced to 50 Months for Conspiring to Violate U.S. Sanctions on Russia

A former Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the FBI Counterintelligence Division in New York, was sentenced to 50 months in prison and ordered to pay a $40,000 fine for 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 and statements made in court proceedings, Charles McGonigal, 55, of New York, New York, pleaded guilty in August.

“Charles McGonigal helped advance the interests of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, breaking his oath to safeguard our nation and uphold its laws,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Today’s sentence holds him accountable for this betrayal and demonstrate this department’s commitment to deny designated individuals the means to circumvent U.S. sanctions.”

“Charles McGonigal violated the trust his country placed in him by using his high-level position at the FBI to prepare for his future in business,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “Once he left public service, he jeopardized our national security by providing services to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian tycoon who acts as Vladimir Putin’s agent.  Today’s sentence is a reminder that anyone who violates United States sanctions — particularly those in whom this country has placed its trust — will pay a heavy penalty.”

“Charles McGonigal’s conduct can be summed up in one word – betrayal. He betrayed everything he once swore to protect.” said Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the National Security Branch. “Today’s sentencing is a message to all, no matter who they are, the FBI does not tolerate those who choose to jeopardize US National Security. Prioritizing personal gains over one’s oath to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution, will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

In 2014, the President issued Executive Order 13660, which declared a national emergency with respect to the situation in Ukraine. To address this national emergency, the President blocked all property of individuals determined by the U.S. Treasury to be responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that threatened the security, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine, or who materially assist, sponsor, or provide support to individuals or entities engaging in such activities. Executive Order 13660 and regulations issued pursuant to it prohibit providing or receiving any funds, goods, or services by, to, from, or for the benefit of any person designated by the U.S. Treasury.

On April 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Oleg Deripaska as a Specially Designated National in connection with its finding that the actions of the Government of the Russian Federation with respect to Ukraine constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy.  According to the U.S. Treasury, Deripaska was sanctioned for having acted or purported to act on behalf of, directly or indirectly, 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. It found, among other things, that OFAC’s determination that Deripaska acted as an agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin was supported by the evidence.

As an FBI official, McGonigal helped investigate Deripaska and other Russian oligarchs. As a SAC, he supervised investigations into sanctions violations. Yet at the same time, he began building a relationship with an agent of Deripaska, in the hopes of doing business with Deripaska after he retired from the FBI.

In 2021, McGonigal conspired to provide services to Deripaska, in violation of U.S. sanctions imposed on Deripaska in 2018. Specifically, following his negotiations with Deripaska’s agent, McGonigal agreed to and did investigate a rival Russian oligarch in return for concealed payments from Deripaska. While negotiating and performing services for Deripaska, 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 hoped to do millions of dollars in business with Deripaska, but FBI agents from the same division McGonigal used to lead foiled his scheme after only a few months of operation.

The FBI New York Field Office’s Counterintelligence Division investigated the case, with valuable assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as 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 assistance from Trial Attorney Christina A. Clark of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Updated December 14, 2023


Topic

COUNTERINTELLIGENCE

Components

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 

National Security Division (NSD) 

USAO – New York, Southern
Thursday, December 14, 2023 For Immediate Release Office of Public Affairs Press Release Number: 23-1430

SOURCE: JUSTICE.GOVMIDTOWN TRIBUNE NEWS – CRIME

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