Former high-ranking FBI official Charles McGonigal pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions and to laundering money by secretly working on behalf of a Russian oligarch he had been tasked with investigating.
The former chief of counterintelligence in the FBI’s New York City office, who was charged in January, settled his New York case with federal prosecutors by pleading guilty to one count in a superseding document used to override or avoid a criminal indictment and streamline plea agreements. He faces up to five years in prison and is to be sentenced Dec. 14.
McGonigal, 55, still has pending federal charges in Washington for allegedly taking $225,000 in bribes while working for the bureau on sensitive investigations. His attorney recently said there were plea discussions with prosecutors there. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney in Washington declined to comment.
McGonigal’s involvement with the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska that is covered by his guilty plea took place over several months in 2021, three years after his 2018 retirement from the FBI, according to prosecutors.
In a statement Tuesday to U.S. District Judge Jennifer H. Rearden, McGonigal said he knew his investigative work benefited Deripaska and was illegal because he was being paid with money that originated in Cyprus and was filtered through local shell companies. His involvement with Deripaska included participation in a plan to try to get Deripaska removed from the U.S. sanctions list, a status that prevents the Russian from doing business with U.S. banks and entities. [Continue reading…]