A retired top official at the FBI’s New York office was arrested over the weekend for money laundering and violating sanctions against Russia, three senior law enforcement officials said Monday.
Charles McGonigal, a 54-year-old who ran counterintelligence from the agency’s Manhattan field office, was arrested at JFK Airport on Saturday after returning on a flight from the Middle East, officials said.
He was named in a five-count federal indictment charging him with violation and conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), according to Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Williams announced Monday the unsealing of the indictment along with Michael Driscoll, deputy director of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
Also named in the court documents: Sergey Shestakov, a Russian court and government interpreter. In addition to the IEEPA-related charges, Shestakov also faces charges of lying to the FBI.
Both men are expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan later Monday.
McGonigal, who retired from the FBI in 2018, oversaw and participated in investigations into Russian oligarchs, including Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska was sanctioned the year McGonigal retired, according to the US Treasury Department, for acting or impersonating on behalf of a senior Russian government official and for working in the energy sector of Russia’s economy.
According to the indictment, McConigal and Shestakov, a former Soviet and Russian diplomat who later became a US citizen and Russian court and government interpreter, conspired in 2021 to provide services to Deripaska in violation of sanctions imposed on him three years earlier . They are said to have been investigating a rival Russian oligarch against payments made by Deripaska and trying to disguise Deripaska’s involvement through shell companies and other means.
The couple also reportedly campaigned unsuccessfully for the sanctions against Deripaska to be lifted in 2019. Read the full indictment here.
Information on a possible attorney for McGonigal was not immediately available, nor were details on an attorney for Shestakov, 69, known.
The two men each face four counts with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Shestakov’s charge of false testimony carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
“As alleged, Charles McGonigal, a former senior FBI official, and Sergey Shestakov, a court interpreter, violated US sanctions by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch,” Williams said in an explanation. “Both have previously worked with Deripaska to try to have his sanctions lifted and as officials they should have known better.”
“The FBI is committed to enforcing economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, particularly from hostile activities by a foreign government and its actors,” Driscoll added. “There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal. Supporting a identified threat to the United States and our allies is a crime the FBI will continue to aggressively pursue.”