American Justice Notebook

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Former Special Agent in Charge of NY FBI Counterintelligence Division Charged with Helping Russian Under Investigation

The FBI announced Monday the unsealing of a five-count Indictment charging Charles McGonigal and Sergey Shestakov of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act or IEEPA.

They are also charged with conspiring to commit money laundering and money laundering. 

Shestakov is also charged with making material misstatements to the FBI, officials stated. 

The defendants were arrested on Saturday. The defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said: “The FBI is committed to the enforcement of economic sanctions designed to protect the United States and our allies, especially against hostile activities of a foreign government and its actors.  Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion, and violence.”

 Adding, “as alleged, McGonigal and Shestakov, both U.S. citizens, acted on behalf of (Oleg) Deripaska and fraudulently used a U.S. entity to obscure their activity in violation of U.S. sanctions.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment unsealed Monday in Manhattan federal court:

In 2014, the President issued Executive Order 13660, which declared a national emergency concerning 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 making 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 (“SDN”) in connection with its finding that the actions of the Government of the Russian Federation concerning Ukraine constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy (the “OFAC Sanctions”). 

According to the U.S. Treasury, Deripaska was sanctioned for acting as a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation and for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy. 

McGonigal, is a former Special Agent in Charge (“SAC”) of FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in New York, who retired in 2018. 

While working at the FBI, McGonigal supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska.  Shestakov is a former Soviet and Russian diplomat who became a U.S. citizen and a Russian interpreter for courts and government offices.

In 2021, McGonigal and Shestakov conspired to provide services to Deripaska, violating U.S. sanctions imposed on Deripaska in 2018. 

Specifically, following their negotiations with an agent of Deripaska, McGonigal and Shestakov agreed and investigated a rival Russian oligarch in return for concealed payments from Deripaska. 

As part of their negotiations with Deripaska’s agent, officials stated that McGonigal, Shestakov 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 payments from Deripaska.

McGonigal and Shestakov were aware that their actions violated U.S. sanctions because, among other reasons, while serving as SAC, McGonigal received then-classified information that Deripaska would be added to a list of oligarchs considered for sanctions as part of the process that led to the imposition of sanctions against Deripaska. 

In addition, in 2019, McGonigal and Shestakov worked on behalf of Deripaska in an unsuccessful effort to have the sanctions against Deripaska lifted.  In November 2021, when FBI agents questioned Shestakov about the nature of his and McGonigal’s relationship with Deripaska’s agent, Shestakov made false statements in a recorded interview.

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 McGonigal, 54, of New York City, and Shestakov, 69, of Morris, Connecticut, are charged with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the IEEPA, one count of violating the IEEPA, one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, and one count of money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  Shestakov is also charged with one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. 

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of the FBI New York Field Office’s Counterintelligence Division and the valuable assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the New York City Police Department.   

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.

 Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hagan Scotten, Rebecca T. Dell, and Derek Wikstrom are in charge of the prosecution with assistance from Trial Attorney Scott A. Claffee of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

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