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Ex-FBI Agent's Russian Oligarch Connection Raises Alarm

The criminal charges against a former FBI official for his work on behalf of a sanctioned Russian oligarch and for allegedly taking secret payments from a former employee of an Albanian intelligence service raise questions about how compromised he was when still with the FBI, the New York Times reports. Charges unsealed last week against Charles McGonigal, who ran the counterintelligence unit at the bureau's New York field office and investigated Russian oligarchs, gave no indication that McGonigal worked for Oleg V. Deripaska while still employed by the FBI. But a separate indictment in Washington, in the Albanian case, charges that he received at least $225,000 while still at the agency. The implications of the allegations against McGonigal are alarming, said Daniel Fried, a former U.S. ambassador to Poland and a former State Department official who helped craft sanctions against Russia. “In a broader sense, it does seem to suggest that the corrupting influence of the Russian oligarchs, the money, is real.”


For years, Deripaska, 55, has employed a small army of lobbyists, lawyers, consultants and fixers to protect his business and personal interests and smooth his access to Western countries. In recent months, federal prosecutors in New York have charged several of those representatives in indictments that accuse them of a range of sanctions violations. Deripaska was himself indicted last fall, with authorities saying he schemed to have his girlfriend give birth to their child in the United States. At the time, American authorities said he had not been arrested and was considered a fugitive. Deripaska became rich by prevailing over rivals and partners in the 1990s, when well-connected Russians competed for control over state resources in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. He earned a reputation for being ruthless and litigious. Deripaska came to broader public attention in the United States around the 2016 election, because he had employed Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, as an adviser. In 2019, after his retirement, McGonigal introduced Deripaska’s agent to an international law firm in Manhattan to help Deripaska have the sanctions removed, according to the indictment. During the negotiations, McGonigal met with Deripaska in London and Vienna, prosecutors said. When Deripaska signed with the firm, it brought on McGonigal as a consultant and investigator.

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