Former FBI agent faces criminal charges linked to Russian and Albanian ties

The U.S. authorities opened two separate Kremlin-connected investigations into Charles McGonigal’s business operations. He is the highest-ranking former FBI employee who has recently faced criminal charges.

Links to Kremlin-connected Russian billionaire Deripaska

Much has been reported about McGonigal’s alleged links to the infamous Kremlin-connected Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who is on the sanctions list.

On the contrary, nothing is known about McGonigal’s alleged ties with Albanian and other Balkan politicians and middlemen, some of whom appear to have intelligence connections.

Connections with former Soviet and Russian ambassador Shestakov

There’s also the question of whether the criminal allegations against McGonigal and his alleged co-conspirator, former Soviet and Russian ambassador Sergey Shestakov, are solely commercial or if they may eventually contain an espionage component.

McGonigal departed from the FBI in 2018 following a 22-year career serving as head of counterintelligence in New York. He was arrested in New York after returning from a trip to Sri Lanka.

Accusation of breaking U.S. sanctions and providing Russian oligarch with illegal services

McGonigal is accused of plotting with Shestakov, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of providing Deripaska with illegal services. Since 2018, the U.S. has imposed harsh sanctions on an extensive list of Kremlin-connected oligarchs. 

In New York, McGonigal is accused of breaking U.S. government sanctions and laundering money while working for Deripaska, among five other accusations.

However, the former FBI special agent is facing nine more counts in Washington, D.C., for allegedly engaging in illegal acts while still serving in the FBI. 

This is a different case, in addition to his relationship with the Russian oligarch Deripaska, which he is believed to have established after leaving the FBI.

McGonigal got over $225,000 from a businessman of Albanian origin – accusation

According to the accusation, McGonigal got more than $225,000 from an American businessman of Albanian origin who is also a former employee of Albanian espionage. 

In exchange, McGonigal allegedly assisted the businessman’s interests in the United States and abroad. As is required of all FBI agents, McGonigal allegedly neglected to reveal his suspected financial ties with the businessman during that time.

McGonigal visited Albania while working for FBI

McGonigal is also said to have visited Albania while working for the FBI, where he allegedly met with key Balkan figures, including Albania’s then-prime minister. 

During that trip, McGonigal allegedly participated in evident lobbying, telling the Albanian prime minister to be cautious while awarding oil-drilling permits to Russian-linked enterprises.

McGonigal is claimed to have met with “an Albanian national employed by a Chinese energy company and operating as an unofficial adviser to the Prime Minister of Albania, keeping an official Albanian governmental email account and passport” during the same trip.

Prosecutors are investigating McGonigal’s trips to Europe

Prosecutors are investigating McGonigal’s recent trips to Europe, where he is believed to have met with government officials from several nations. The Washington inquiry says that the list includes Germany, Austria, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

There is also an investigation into “money or gifts” that McGonigal may have received from Balkan authorities or “those affiliated with them.” 

McGonigal has rejected all charges, according to his lawyers. He was released on $500,000 bail but had to give up his passport and was not allowed to leave the country. 

If found guilty, McGonigal might spend up to 20 years in prison.

Picture: Charles McGonigal, former FBI counterintelligence officer. (Photo: Twitter/ @jentaub)

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