Charles F. McGonigal, formerly the FBI’s top counterintelligence official conduct has been described as an embarrassment by his former colleagues at the FBI. However, the FBI perceives him not as a spy, but rather a corrupt ex-official looking to profit. FBI Director Christopher Wray rejects the view of McGonigal’s arrest as embarrassing, emphasizing that the FBI led the investigation and arrest, highlighting their commitment to addressing unacceptable conduct.
The FBI perceives McGonigal’s actions as a case of corruption, not espionage. Post-investigation assessments lead the bureau to classify McGonigal’s behavior as greed rather than espionage. McGonigal’s role in the FBI’s Russia investigation has been heavily discussed, but former officials assert his position did not entail final decision-making authority.
In a surprising detail, McGonigal reportedly accepted $80,000 in cash from an ex-Albanian intelligence operative in 2017, a year after his promotion to head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York. He allegedly sold his access to US officials, brokering meetings for Bosnian and Herzegovinian individuals on behalf of the Albanian contact. He supposedly accepted $225,000 for this assistance, lying about his activities and relationship with the Prime Minister of Albania to the FBI.
After retiring in 2018, McGonigal allegedly violated US sanctions by receiving illegal payments to assist Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in efforts to have US sanctions against him removed. However, many officials find McGonigal’s conduct during his time at the bureau more alarming than his post-retirement charges, expressing particular concern about his alleged involvement in initiating an FBI investigation of a US citizen without disclosing his own financial relationship with the potential human source.