Retired top FBI official charged over ties to Russian oligarch faces 2nd indictment: 'Gateway to corruption'

The retired top FBI counterintelligence agent who played a role in the Trump-Russia probe years before it was revealed he allegedly had his own illegal ties to a Russian oligarch was hit with a second indictment Monday for allegedly concealing more than $225,000 in cash received from outside sources.

Charles McGonigal, the former FBI Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office who retired in 2018, was charged through a nine-count indictment unsealed Monday in Washington, D.C.

In what the indictment describes as an "apparent conflict of interest between his official FBI duties," McGonigal allegedly accepted a $225,000 payment from a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Albania who had been an employee of the Albanian intelligence agency several decades earlier and ran a business in Delaware.

The individual is later said to have served as an FBI source in a criminal investigation involving foreign political lobbying over which McGonigal had official supervisory responsibility.

RETIRED TOP FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENT WHO LED TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE ARRESTED FOR OWN TIES TO RUSSIAN OLIGARCH

McGonigal leaves federal court in NYC
Charles McGonigal, the former head of counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York office, leaves Manhattan Federal Court on January 23, 2023 in New York City.

McGonigal is accused of engaging in other conduct in his official capacity as an FBI Special Agent in Charge that he believed would benefit the businessperson financially.

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"Covering up your contacts with foreign nationals and hiding your personal financial relationships is a gateway to corruption," U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew M. Graves said in a statement Monday. "The FBI and the Department will guard the best interests of the United States and hold to account those who make false statements and try to deceive the Bureau."

McGonigal allegedly traveled with that unnamed person, who resides in New Jersey, to Europe and established ongoing relationships with foreign nationals introduced to him by the businessman, the indictment says.

McGonigal at NYC court
Charles McGonigal, the former head of counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York office, and his attorney Seth Ducharme leave Manhattan Federal Court on January 23, 2023 in New York City.

While making trips to Europe, McGonigal is said to have failed to report the New Jersey man as his travel companion, falsely characterized the purpose of the travel and falsely reported there would be no "reportable foreign contacts on the travel." The then-senior FBI official 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.

That person, also a former Albanian government official, was friends and business associates with the New Jersey man and also had a prior working relationship with McGonigal, the indictment says.

McGonigal made repeated trips to Kosovo and Albania. At the request of the New Jersey man, who prosecutors say had a business stake in the game, McGonigal allegedly advised in a meeting with the Albania president that he be careful about granting oil field drilling licenses to Russian front companies. 

McGonigal swarmed by reporters
Charles McGonigal, the former head of counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York office, leaves Manhattan Federal Court on January 23, 2023 in New York City.

In September 2017, in Albania, McGonigal was introduced by the New Jersey man to an Albanian businessperson and politician who told McGonigal "that he wanted someone to investigate an alleged plot to kill" him, according to the indictment. McGonigal also allegedly gave FBI paraphernalia to a Kosovar politician.

After returning from the trip, the New Jersey man allegedly gave McGonigal $80,000 in cash while in a parked car outside a New York City restaurant. Twice more in the fall of 2017, he is accused of having paid McGonigal $80,000 and $65,000.

Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska
Russian billionaire and businessman Oleg Deripaska seen at the plenary session during the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum SPIEF 2022, on June 17, 2022, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

McGonigal also allegedly arranged for a Bosnia and Herzegovina national and owner of a pharmaceutical company there to pay $500,000 to the company owned by his New Jersey friend. In exchange, McGonigal is said to have used the FBI’s liaison to the United Nations to set up a meeting between the U.S. delegation and the Bosnia and Herzegovina pharmaceutical company.

The indictment says McGonigal also attempted to arrange meetings between a former Bosnian defense minister who served as an adviser to the Bosnian president and U.S. government authorities that would benefit his New Jersey friend financially.

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In Washington, D.C., McGonigal was indicted on the charge of falsification of records and documents, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The nine-count indictment also included the charge of making false statements, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for each count. The charges also carry potential financial penalties, prosecutors said.

Also on Monday, McGonigal was charged in New York federal court through a five-count indictment for money laundering and allegedly breaking sanctions against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska amid the war in Ukraine.