Separate investigations focus on ex-FBI special agent’s Russian and Albanian ties

FBIAUTHORITIES IN THE UNITED States have launched at least two separate investigations into the business dealings of Charles McGonigal, the highest-ranking former employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to face criminal charges in recent times. Much has been written about McGonigal’s alleged connection with Kremlin-linked Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. On the contrary, relatively little is known about his purported dealings with Albanian and other Balkan officials and middlemen, some of whom appear to have intelligence links. There is also the question of whether the criminal charges against McGonigal and his alleged co-conspirator, former Soviet and Russian diplomat Sergey Shestakov, are strictly financial in nature, or may eventually expand to include an espionage angle.

McGonigal, 54, retired in 2018 after a 22-year career at the FBI, during which he served as head of counterintelligence in New York, home of one of the Bureau’s largest field offices. He was arrested on Saturday in New York, upon returning to the United States from a trip to Sri Lanka. He faces charges of conspiring with Shestakov, a naturalized US citizen, to provide under-the-table services to Deripaska. The latter is among a long list of Kremlin-linked oligarchs, who have been subject to strict US sanctions since 2018. In working for Deripaska, McGonigal is accused in the state of New York of violating US government sanctions and engaging in money laundering, among five other charges.

However, the former FBI special agent is facing nine more charges in Washington, which involve illicit activities that he allegedly engaged in while still serving in the FBI. This is in contrast with his business relationship with Deripaska, which he is believed to have entered after his retirement from the Bureau. According to the indictment, McGonigal received in excess of $225,000 from an Albanian-born American businessman, who is also a former employee of Albanian intelligence. In return, McGonigal allegedly helped promote the businessman’s interests in the US and abroad. Throughout that time, McGonigal reportedly failed to disclose his alleged financial links with the businessman, as is required of all FBI employees.

It is also reported that McGonigal traveled to Albania while still serving in the FBI, where he allegedly met with senior Balkan politicians, including the then-prime minister of Albania. McGonigal is alleged to have engaged in apparent lobbying during that trip, in one instance advising the Albanian prime minister to exercise caution in offering oil-drilling licenses to Russian-linked companies. During the same trip, McGonigal is said to have met with “an Albanian national who was employed by a Chinese energy conglomerate and operated as an informal adviser to the Prime Minister of Albania, retaining an official Albanian government email account and passport”.

In connection with the Washington investigation, prosecutors are now reportedly looking into McGonigal’s travels to Europe in recent years, during which he is said to have met with government officials from several countries, in locations such as Germany, Austria, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. There is also an investigation into “payments or gifts” that McGonigal may have received from Balkan officials, or “people associated with them”. According to his lawyers, McGonigal has denied all charges against him. He has been freed on a $500,000 bail, but has surrendered his passport and is not permitted to leave the US. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 January 2023 | Permalink

One Response to Separate investigations focus on ex-FBI special agent’s Russian and Albanian ties

  1. Pete says:

    Several liaison services suspect McGonigal was INITIALLY acting as a double agent (still working for US intel) in his post FBI dealings with Russian and Albanian intelligence and businessmen. This delayed his reckoning with US justice.

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