Former Special Agent in Charge of the FBI New York Counterintelligence Division Charged with Violating U.S. Sanctions on Russia
Department of Justice Press Release Number: 23-71 - Topic(s): Export Control National Security
A Russian Court and Government Interpreter Also Charged with Violating U.S. Sanctions on Russia
A former Special Agent in Charge of the FBI New York Counterintelligence Division and a former Soviet and Russian diplomat were arrested Saturday on criminal charges related to their alleged violating and conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and conspiring to commit money laundering and money laundering.
According to court documents, Charles F. McGonigal, 54, of New York City, and Sergey Shestakov, 69, of Morris, Connecticut, are charged in a five-count indictment unsealed today in the Southern District of New York with violating and conspiring to violate the IEEPA, and with conspiring to commit money laundering and money laundering.
According to court documents, 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 with respect to Ukraine constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy. According to the U.S. Treasury, Deripaska was sanctioned for having acted or purported to act on behalf of, directly or indirectly, 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. Sergey Shestakov is a former Soviet and Russian diplomat who later 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, in violation of U.S. sanctions imposed on Deripaska in 2018. Specifically, following their negotiations with an agent of Deripaska, McGonigal and Shestakov agreed to and did investigate a rival Russian oligarch in return for concealed payments from Deripaska. As part of their negotiations with Deripaska’s agent, 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 payment 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.
McGonigal and Shestakov are charged in the Southern District of New York with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the IEEPA, one count of violating 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. Shestakov and McGonigal were arrested in New York on Saturday and will make their initial court appearances this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave in Manhattan federal court.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, and Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI New York Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI is investigating the case, with valuable assistance provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as the New York City Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hagen Scotten, Rebecca T. Dell and Derek Wikstrom for the Southern District of New York and Trial Attorney Scott Claffee of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.