- A former top FBI official was charged in two jurisdictions on Monday.
- The ex-counter-intelligence official was charged with secretly receiving cash payments from a former foreign officer.
- He was also charged with violating US sanctions by allegedly providing services to a Russian oligarch.
A former high-level FBI official was indicted on charges that he secretly received at least $225,000 from an ex-foreign security officer while he oversaw a counterintelligence division at the agency, the Department of Justice announced on Monday.
Charles McGonigal, who served as the special agent in charge of FBI counterintelligence in New York, allegedly concealed the nature of his relationship with a former Albanian intelligence agent from August 2017 through McGonigal’s retirement in September 2018 and until at least May 2019, the authorities said.
McGonigal requested the payment in cash from the former Albanian official, who was a naturalized US citizen living in New Jersey, according to the DOJ.
McGonigal also traveled abroad with the official and met with foreign nationals in Europe, where the official had business interests, according to the DOJ. The ex-Albanian official was later an FBI source in a criminal investigation involving foreign political lobbying that McGonigal oversaw, the government said.
McGonigal was required to publicly file financial transactions and report to the FBI any unofficial travel and contacts with foreign nationals, authorities wrote in the nine-count indictment unsealed in DC District Court on Monday.
“Covering up your contacts with foreign nationals and hiding your personal financial relationships is a gateway to corruption,” US Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves said. “The FBI should be commended for handling the delicate and difficult task of investigating a former executive.”
Authorities arrested the 54-year-old former FBI executive in New York, where he was also indicted in federal court in Manhattan on Monday over charges related to violating sanctions and money laundering.
McGonigal allegedly violated US sanctions by agreeing to provide services to a sanctioned Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire industrialist and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
McGonigal, along with US court interpreter and former Russian diplomat, Sergey Shestakov, agreed to investigate a rival of Deripaska’s in exchange for concealed payments from the oligarch while he was sanctioned by the US in 2021, authorities said.
McGonigal had also received classified information at the FBI that the US would impose sanctions against Deripaska in 2018 and worked to remove those sanctions after he left the FBI, the government said.
“There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement. “Supporting a designated threat to the United States and our allies is a crime the FBI will continue to pursue aggressively.”
The ex-FBI official potentially faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison in the New York indictment. In Washington, DC, he faces a possible statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison over falsifying records charges.