NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) – A former FBI official was charged on Monday with working for recognized Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, as U.S. prosecutors stepped up efforts to impose sanctions on Russian officials and police.
Charles McGonigal, who led the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York before retiring in 2018, pleaded not guilty at trial in Manhattan federal court to four criminal charges, including sanctions violations and money laundering.
He was released on $500,000 bond following his arrest over the weekend.
Prosecutors said McGonigal, 54, received hidden payments from Deripaska in 2021.
McConnell was accused of failing to lift sanctions against Deripaska in 2019.
Sanctions “must be enforced equally against all American citizens to be successful,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement. “No one is exempt, including a former FBI official.”
Separately on Monday, federal prosecutors in Washington said McGonigal received $225,000 in cash from a former member of Albania’s intelligence service, who was a witness in an investigation into foreign political lobbying that McGonigal oversaw.
McGonigal faces nine counts in that case, including making false statements to conceal the nature of her relationship with the man from the FBI.
“This is obviously a sad day for Mr. McGonigal and his family,” Seth DuCharme, the defendant’s attorney, told reporters after the Manhattan hearing. “We will review the evidence, we will scrutinize it, and we have a lot of confidence in Mr McGonigal.”
Deripaska is the founder of the Russian aluminum company Rusal (RUAL.MM)He was one of two dozen Russian oligarchs and government officials blacklisted by Washington in 2018 in response to Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.
He and the Kremlin have denied any election meddling.
The defendant in the Manhattan case was Sergei Shestakov, a former Soviet diplomat who later became a US citizen and Russian-language interpreter for US courts and government agencies.
Prosecutors said Shestakov worked with McConnell to help Deripaska and made false statements to investigators.
Shestakov pleaded not guilty Monday and was released on $200,000 bond.
The imposition of sanctions is part of US efforts to pressure Moscow to end its war in Ukraine, which the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”.
Last September, Deripaska was accused of violating sanctions against her by arranging for her children to be born in the United States.
The following month, British businessman Graham Bonham-Carter was charged with conspiring to defy sanctions by trying to smuggle Deripaska’s artwork out of the United States.
Deripaska is absconding, and Bonham-Carter is contesting extradition to the United States.
Reporting by Luke Cohen in New York; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Bill Bergrod, Jonathan Otis and Marguerita Choi
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