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Ex-FBI agent accused of working for Russian oligarch may change plea

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Charles McGonigal, a former FBI official arrives at Federal Court in New York

Charles McGonigal, a former FBI official who has been charged with working for sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, arrives at Federal Court in New York City, U.S., March 8, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

NEW YORK, Aug 7 (Reuters) – A former FBI agent accused by U.S. prosecutors of working for sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska may change his plea in relation to criminal charges of evading U.S. sanctions and money laundering, court records showed on Monday.

Charles McGonigal had previously pleaded not guilty. A change of plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Jennifer Rearden in Manhattan has been scheduled for Aug. 15.

McGonigal’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, which brought the case, declined to comment.

Prosecutors in January said McGonigal, who led the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York before retiring in 2018, received concealed payments from Deripaska in exchange for investigating a rival oligarch and unsuccessfully pushed in 2019 to lift U.S. sanctions on Deripaska.

The charges against McGonigal came as U.S. prosecutors ramped up efforts to enforce sanctions on Russian officials and police their alleged enablers in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Deripaska, the founder of Russian aluminum company Rusal (RUAL.MM), was among two dozen Russian oligarchs and government officials blacklisted by Washington in 2018 in reaction to Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

He and the Kremlin have denied any election interference.

Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Mark Porter and Conor Humphries

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Reports on the New York federal courts. Previously worked as a correspondent in Venezuela and Argentina.