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‘There are no exceptions for anyone

By Trevor Schakohl

President Donald J. Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, en route to Erie International Airport in Erie, Pennsylvania. (Official White House photo by Tia Dufour)    Authorities charged a former Special Agent In Change of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in New York and a court interpreter with breaking sanctions to work for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

Charles McGonigal, 54, who investigated Deripaska during his FBI career ending in 2018, and U.S. citizen Sergey Shestakov, 69, were allegedly paid to investigate a rival Russian oligarch for him in 2021 and worked with his agent to conceal his involvement using shell companies and a forged signature, the office’s press release said. The U.S. government had sanctioned Deripaska in 2018 in connection with Russian government action towards Ukraine following the 2014 presidential declaration of a state of emergency there, and McGonigal and Shestakov are accused of working on his behalf the next year to have the sanctions lifted.

McGonigal is charged with conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, violating International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering and conspiring to commit money laundering, while Shestakov faces those charges and one count of making false statements, according to the release. Each of their shared charges could land them 20 years in prison, while making false statements is punishable by up to five years.

Deripaska told TheHill.TV in 2019 that his attorneys hired former British spy Christopher Steele, author of the infamous Steele dossier, to work on research for case against him in London. The debunked Steele dossier was a key source behind the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign for allegedly conspiring with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election and a major foundation for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications the FBI directed at former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

“Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin and are associated with acts of bribery, extortion, and violence. As alleged, Mr. McGonigal and Mr. Shestakov, both U.S. citizens, acted on behalf of Deripaska and fraudulently used a U.S. entity to obscure their activity in violation of U.S. sanctions,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll said, the press release reported. “There are no exceptions for anyone, including a former FBI official like Mr. McGonigal. ”

The FBI did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for further comment.

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