Russian Oligarch Is Making Problems for the FBI

Russian Oligarch Is Making Problems for the FBI

( – A former senior FBI agent was indicted last week on charges of having an “inappropriate” financial relationship with a Russian billionaire closely linked to Vladimir Putin. It’s an ugly corruption case that shows how rich, often hostile foreigners can buy influence with federal agencies, but it also exposes a strange web of links between the oligarch and Washington, DC — because it’s not the first time this rich Russian has popped up in a federal investigation.

On January 23, the Justice Department indicted Charles F McGonigal, a former head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, for allegedly taking money from a former Albanian spy and an associate of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Prosecutors say McGonigal tried to get Deripaska off the US sanctions list by investigating one of his rivals. In total, the ex-agent is alleged to have collected at least $225,000 in bribes.

There’s a lot more to Deripaska’s story than one corrupt FBI agent, though. The 55-year-old multibillionaire, who has been described as “Putin’s favorite industrialist,” also played a key role in the fake Russia collusion allegations thrown at former president Donald Trump. The initial 2017 allegations that Trump associate Paul Manafort was working with Russians named Deripaska as his contact — an accusation Manafort and Deripaska both strongly deny. But why was the Russian on the radar in the first place? It turns out he has links with the Washington establishment going back almost 15 years.

In 2009 the FBI, then led by Robert Mueller (who later served as special counsel on the Russia collusion case), asked Deripaska to help rescue a retired FBI agent from Iran. The Bureau held a series of meetings with him and persuaded him to spend millions of dollars of his own money on the project. In 2015 the Justice Department and FBI asked him to help them understand Russian organized crime. That was when Deripaska first met (and hired) British mercenary and former spy Christopher Steele — and it was Steele who produced the fake dossier linking Trump to Russia.

Oleg Deripaska is a man with a murky past, a former farm laborer who rose to become the world’s second-largest aluminum manufacturer. He’s rich and allegedly willing to bribe American officials to get his own way. And his name crops up over and over again in Washington — often linked to plots against Trump. Charles McGonigal might not be the only one with serious Deripaska-related questions to answer.

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