A former FBI special agent with ties to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska was charged on Monday with breaching US sanctions on Moscow, US federal prosecutors in New York said.
Charles McGonigal, a former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in New York who retired in 2018, was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of attempting to remove the sanctions placed on Mr Deripaska.
Mr Deripaska was sanctioned in 2018 as part of Washington's reaction to Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Federal prosecutors said Mr McGonigal and Sergey Shestakov, a US citizen and former Russian diplomat who has also been charged in the case, were paid to investigate a rival Russian oligarch on Mr Deripaska's behalf in 2021.
The two also unsuccessfully attempted to lift the sanctions placed on Mr Deripaska in 2019.
In a joint statement, the FBI and Department of Justice said Mr McGonigal and Mr Shestakov had known they were breaching US sanctions.
“There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr McGonigal,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll.
“Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion and violence.”
The defendants were charged with breaching and conspiring to breach the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, conspiring to commit money laundering, and money laundering. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Mr Shestakov was also charged with making false statements to the FBI, which carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Mr McGonigal and Mr Shestakov were expected to appear in a Manhattan federal court on Monday. They are both being held at a federal prison in Brooklyn, The Associated Press reported.