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A Close Rudy Giuliani Associate Alerted FBI’s Assistant Director to Charles McGonigal’s Alleged Albanian Graft

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I know of two journalists who had reported on parts of the charges against former FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles McGonigal before he was indicted: In December 2021, Scott Stedman (with an assist from Wendy Siegelman) reported on the relationship between McGonigal, Oleg Deripaska, Sergey Shestakov, and Yevgenyi Fokin that was disclosed in a November 29, 2021 FARA filing.

And in September 2022, Mattathias Schwartz reported on a subpoena that (this was made more clear later) had been served ten months earlier, in November 2021. In the story, Schwartz claimed the documents he had in hand showed that McGonigal was under investigation for his Deripaska ties, which he only substantiated with a link to the FARA filing. The story itself pertained entirely to the Albanian side of the investigation, based off that subpoena, part of which he published.

Schwartz published that story a month after he won a lot of attention for getting Paul Manafort to confirm on the record the cover story someone had fed a NYT team including Maggie Haberman and Ken Vogel in February 2019: that Manafort had shared (just) campaign data with Konstantin Kilimnik. When first published in 2019, that cover story successfully distracted attention from outlines of a more substantive exchange pitched by Deripaska associate Kilimnik at an August 2, 2016 cigar bar meeting (and, indeed, from Deripaska’s involvement generally).

Manafort’s calendar showed that before he went to that meeting on August 2, 2016, he met with Trump and Rudy Giuliani. And while Manafort was serving his abbreviated prison term, Rudy reportedly consulted with him about his efforts to dig up dirt helpful to Trump.

In the wake of McGonigal’s indictments, Schwartz wrote a story about the person that he all but confirms was the one who received the subpoena: Allison Guerriero, who had a year-plus long affair with McGonigal that started sometime before October 2017 and lasted until late 2018, past the time McGonigal retired from the FBI in September 2018. According to the story, their relationship covered the most important period of the corruption described in the two indictments against McGonigal (meetings with Albania in the the DC indictment start in August 2017 and end in August 2018; favors for a Deripaska agent described in the SDNY indictment start in spring 2018; the favors continued through 2021, at which point the investigation into Deripaska had become overt).

In fact, Schwartz suggests that Guerriero may have tipped off FBI’s Assistant Director William Sweeney to McGonigal’s corruption in a drunken act of revenge after the affair ended.

In late 2018, McGonigal and Guerriero broke up. She remembers receiving an anonymous and hostile note in the mail. Soon after, McGonigal told her he was still married and had no plans to divorce his wife. “I was shocked,” she said. “I was very much in love with him, and I was so hurt.” She started drinking heavily to cope. A few months later, Guerriero, after a bout of drinking, dashed off an angry email to William Sweeney, who was in charge of the FBI’s New York City bureau, and who, she recalls, had first introduced her to McGonigal. She remembers telling Sweeney in the email that he should look into their extramarital affair, and also McGonigal’s dealings in Albania. McGonigal had already befriended Albania’s prime minister and traveled to the country extensively, dealings that would appear later in one of his indictments. Guerriero told Insider that she had deleted the email.

As Schwartz describes it, Guerriero told Sweeney he should look at not just McGonigal’s ties to Albania but also their affair, which is a nutty thing to say to an FBI official.

It’s a weird claim, because elsewhere, the story implies that Guerriero believed McGonigal’s stories about why he had bags of cash lying around, including a bag of cash that (Schwartz convincingly argues) is likely the one McGonigal is accused of receiving in a parked car on October 5, 2017.

That day in October wasn’t the only time that Guerriero remembers McGonigal carrying large amounts of cash. After he brushed her curiosity aside, she tempered her suspicions. She told herself it was probably “buy money” for a sting operation, or a payoff for one of McGonigal’s informants.

The story never describes that Guerriero learned of McGonigal’s ties to Albania, much less how or when she learned about them. And yet one takeaway from the story is that she might be the source of the entire investigation into her former boyfriend.

If she did send that email, it’s virtually certain an Assistant Director of the FBI would not delete it.

Schwartz describes Guerriero as,

a former substitute kindergarten teacher who volunteered for law-enforcement causes and was working as a contractor for a security company while living at home with her father.

The Facebook page for the charity for which she works shows the kind of NY law enforcement people she networks with.

Which partly explains the really remarkable detail about Guerriero. She’s close enough with Rudy Giuliani — who was himself being cultivated by Russian assets during the same period that McGonigal was — that the by-then discredited mayor put her up in his guest room after she suffered a burn injury in 2021.

Guerriero’s troubles worsened in early 2021, when she was badly burned during a fire at her father’s house. She asked friends for help through a GoFundMe. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City, whom she knew from law-enforcement circles, let her stay in a guest bedroom. Since then, Guerriero has been a frequent on-air caller for Giuliani’s radio shows. She maintains that the 2020 election was marred by widespread voter fraud, a belief pushed by Giuliani that has been repeatedly debunked. “Whatever Giuliani says about the 2020 election is what I believe,” she said.

What a small world, that the woman who may have triggered the investigation into McGonigal was staying with Rudy as the investigation developed? Presumably, for example, some of Guerriero’s communications with Rudy would have been found on his phones after they were seized in April 2021 (though the investigation into McGonigal was already very advanced by the time the FBI actually started getting any communications from Rudy’s phones in November 2021, and emails with Guerriero would be out of scope of any known or suspected warrant targeting Rudy).

Schwartz doesn’t pursue the fact that McGonigal has such close ties to Rudy, though the connection would be even more interesting if McGonigal’s role in the Trump Russian investigation were as central as Schwartz presented it (he’s not alone in overstating McGonigal’s known role).

But there are two additional reasons the detail is particularly interesting.

First, as noted, Schwartz published part of the subpoena that, this second story clarifies, Guerriero received in November 2021.

Regardless, by November 2021, the FBI was looking into McGonigal. Two agents showed up at Guerriero’s door, she says, showed her a picture of McGonigal with the Albanian prime minister, and interviewed her about their interactions. She also received a grand-jury subpoena requesting all of her communications with McGonigal as well as information about any “payments or gifts” he may have given her.

It tracks the DC indictment closely (and was sent by the LA-based team investigating it). Four bullets ask for information about the Albanians that are the central focus of the indictment. Bullet f references McGonigal’s ties to Kosovo, which show up in ¶28 of the indictment. Bullet h and i ask for information on the Bosnians who appear in ¶¶45, 46 and 48 of the indictment; bullet j asks for information about the alleged access peddling to the UN described in ¶¶50-52 of the indictment.

But the subpoena — bullet g — asks about another country, Montenegro, where much of Deripaska and Manafort’s long history began and where Deripaska was still allegedly interfering as late as 2016. If Montenegro shows up in the indictment at all, it’s only as one of the other locations in Europe to which McGonigal was traveling with his Albanian contact (for example, a spring 2018 trip described in ¶44). That may simply reflect Montenegro’s relative import in McGonigal’s paid travel, the quality of evidence, or maybe DOJ didn’t want to include it for some other reason. But if Montenegro were a key part of McGonigal’s Balkans travels — on which, ¶22 of the indictment makes clear, he worked to persuade Albania not to sign oil contracts with Russian front companies — it would put him in a country where Deripaska likely still has a rich network of sources.

In any case, the only other thing that doesn’t map directly from the subpoena to the indictment are any payments or gifts McGonigal gave to Guerriero. The DC indictment never explained why, “no later than August 2017,” McGonigal allegedly asked his Albanian contact if he could provide him money, but Schwartz’ story reveals that the indicted former SAC was giving Guerriero gifts of cash and taking her to high-end restaurants during their affair, which started at least by October 2017 (her subpoena asked for records going back to April 2017). The indictment never mentions her, but the affair with her may explain part of McGonigal’s urgent need for cash in September 2017, something that would make McGonigal ripe to compromise by anyone who learned of it.

As I noted earlier, there’s one more remarkable player in this little network that includes Rudy Giuliani: Seth DuCharme, who spent much of the last year of the Trump Administration implementing Bill Barr’s bureaucratic efforts to ensure that Rudy Giuliani would not be prosecuted for his efforts to obtain benefit for Trump — including, but not limited to, dirt on Hunter Biden — from people that included several suspected Russian agents. DuCharme, who works at Rudy’s former firm, Bracewell, is part of the team representing McGonigal.

And to the extent that Guerriero is one of the witnesses from whom DOJ learned the specifics about how much cash McGonigal received in bags in parked cars (though, again, Schwartz’ story is inconsistent about whether she knew none of that or whether she knew enough to tip off William Sweeney) it would be part of DuCharme’s job to discredit Rudy’s former houseguest as a witness. He would do so, presumably, by pointing to all the things Guerriero told Schwartz she regrets, including harassment of McGonigal’s family that was serious enough to merit restraining orders in two states.

By her own account, Guerriero contacted one of McGonigal’s children despite being prohibited from doing so by a court order, an incident that led to her spending the night in a New Jersey jail. The court order stemmed from a 2019 police report, obtained by Insider, that McGonigal’s wife, Pamela, filed with the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland. The report states that McGonigal and Guerriero “had a relationship” and that Guerriero had repeatedly harassed her with unwelcome emails and phone calls — including 20 calls in one day — despite her asking Guerriero to stop.

Guerriero confirmed that her contact with the McGonigal family led to a separate restraining order issued in New Jersey. “I am ashamed and embarrassed and sorry for my actions during the time that I was drinking,” she said.

In Schwartz’ story, Guerriero doesn’t say she regrets that email to Sweeney, which could well have sparked this entire investigation. She regrets the harassment of McGonigal’s family, which might come out if she were called as a witness.

All of which may provide insight into why the DC case against McGongial is charged as it is. Among the overt acts of which McGonigal is accused in DC are:

  • Networking with representatives of the government of Albania in late 2017 and early 2018 during the period when he used information from them to launch an investigation against the US citizen lobbyist for their rival.
  • Proposing that his prime Albanian contact be paid $500,000 (which may have been meant as repayment of money the Albanian gave McGonigal in 2017) to set up a high level UN meeting for some Bosnians.

Both of these overt acts could be charged under FARA and the Albanian tie, at least, could well have been charged under 18 USC 951. But McGonigal would likely offer the same kind of defense that Tom Barrack did in his EDNY trial: when McGonigal counseled the Albanian Prime Minister not to sign oil contracts with Russian on September 9, 2017, he could easily argue, he did so because he was genuinely opposed to Russian influence and not because he was seeking a benefit for his key Albanian contact.

Instead, DOJ charged him with inadequate disclosure to the FBI on forms FD-772b and OGE-278, with each inadequate disclosure charged as a false statement under either 18 USC 1001 or 1519 (though I don’t understand why McGonigal would not immediately challenge the three of the charges tied to filings submitted more than five years ago, especially if FBI had notice of all this in 2018). The 1001 charges would normally only get a few months sentence, though with a sentencing enhancement for abusing his official position, and by treating each inadequate disclosure as a separate crime, potential exposure could easily add up to years, or, with a plea deal, it could be pitched as “process crimes” meriting just months of prison time.

Charging it that way not only gives DC USAO more flexibility in plea discussions.

It would also make it a “paper case,” something that depends largely on documentation rather than the credibility of a witness like McGonigal’s primary Albanian contact (who seems to have told FBI that the cash payments were loans, not payments) or Guerriero. For each false form McGonigal submitted, DOJ will only have to show where he traveled, how his travel was paid, and that he didn’t properly disclose it. It would rely on travel records and bank statements and not the testimony of a witness who harassed McGonigal’s family out of jealousy.

I don’t want to make too much of Schwartz’ revelation that a key witness against McGonigal was staying in Rudy’s guest room as the investigation developed. Drunken jealousy is all the motive you need to explain her actions (though not, perhaps, inconsistencies about how much of the Albanian graft she knew about).

But once you throw Rudy and Montenegro into the mix, the trajectory on which McGonigal traveled, from arguing against Russian oil contracts in September 2017 to thinking he could manage ties to Deripaska in spring of 2018, gets a lot more interesting.

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Arrest and Indictment of Charles McGonigal | C-SPAN Classroom

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FBI agent arrested ‘took Russian money, turned in by ex-girlfriend’

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Published: 06:00 GMT, 28 January 2023 | Updated: 08:26 GMT, 28 January 2023

Charles McGonigal, the former Special Agent In Charge of the New York FBI Counterintelligence Division, was allegedly turned in to the Bureau by his ex-lover, Allison Guerriero, after he ended their relationship and revealed he was not going to leave his wife for her.

During her time with McGonigal, Guerriero discovered a bag of cash in his Park Slope, Brooklyn apartment in October 2017, and when she questioned him about it, he claimed to have won the money through gambling on a baseball game.

Guerriero alleged their affair lasted over a year and that he would spend large amounts of cash on her and have sex in FBI-owned vehicles.

When the couple met, Guerriero was 44 and was a former substitute kindergarten teacher who volunteered for law-enforcement causes, working as a contractor for a security company while living at home with her dad. 

Allison Guerriero, an angry ex-lover of the FBI’s former New York counterintelligence chief claims she tipped the feds off to some of his transgressions before his arrest last week. She is pictured former MLB pitcher Sparky Lyle in a photo from June 2017

Charles McGonigal, the former head of counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York office, leaves Manhattan Federal Court on Monday in New York City with his wife, Pamela

McGonigal, was 49 years old, had just started a new job at the FBI’s New York office. 

The Southern District of New York unsealed a five-count indictment against McGonigal and Sergey Shestakov earlier this week, charging them with violating and conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and with conspiring to commit money laundering. 

McGonigal, who retired in 2018, played a role in sensitive and high-profile investigations, including Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s purported ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. 

Charles McGonigal, now 54, walked free from Manhattan federal court on Monday on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond, following his arrest Saturday on charges laid out in two newly unsealed indictments.

Allison Guerriero said she dated McGonigal for a year during which time she claims he spent lavishly on her. Pictured, Patriot Award recipient John Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism; FEHSF Grant Coordinator Allison Guerriero; and Assistant Director in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (ret), Diego Rodriguez, right

Guerriero has admitted that her grudge against him led her to carry out some obsessive and disturbing behavior herself, including writing to McGonigal’s family

One of the indictments, filed in Manhattan, accused McGonigal of violating US sanctions laws by working for Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire crony of Vladimir Putin, following his 2018 retirement from the FBI.

The other charges, filed in Washington DC, allege McGonigal took $225,000 in cash bribes from an unnamed former Albanian intelligence agent while leading the counterintelligence branch in the FBI’s New York field office.

In an interview with Insider, Guerriero alleges that McGonigal used FBI resources for their relationship, including having sex in an FBI vehicle. 

She notes how McGonigal may have also abused his position of trust having once opened an FBI investigation into a U.S. citizen who lobbied for an opponent of the Albanian prime minister whom he had become close with.

Allison Guerriero, right, is pictured with her father, William Guerriero, left, and former professional boxer Gerry Cooney, center, in a snap from 2011

Ex-girlfriend, Allison Guerriero, far right, also claims she found a bag containing $80,000 in cash at  McGonigal’s Park Slope, Brooklyn apartment. Pictured, Retired ATF Agent and FEHSF Advisory Board Member Joe Green, left, FEHSF Award Presenter Frank Rios and FEHSF Grant Coordinator Allison Guerriero right

Monday’s indictment states that McGonigal was accompanied by the unnamed ex-spy when he secretly met with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in September 2017, where he gave Rama ‘FBI paraphernalia’ and offered advice on lucrative oil drilling licenses. 

McGonigal is also accused of hiding from the FBI key details of a 2017 trip he took to Albania with the former Albanian intelligence official who is alleged to have given him at least $225,000 in three separate cash payments.

Once there, according to the Justice Department, McGonigal met with Albania´s prime minister and urged caution in awarding oil field drilling licenses in the country to Russian front companies. McGonigal’s Albanian contacts had a financial interest in those decisions.

In an example of how McGonigal allegedly blurred personal gain with professional responsibilities, prosecutors in Washington say he ’caused’ the FBI´s New York office to open a criminal lobbying investigation in which the former Albanian intelligence official was to serve as a confidential human source.

After a drinking session and in a fit of jealousy, Alisaon Guerriero emailed McGonigal’s boss. PIctured left, Jim Hayes a retiree from the Dept of Homeland Security. Guerriero, center, and FEHSF Executive Board Member Vincent LeVien, right. Pictured in May 2019

In her interview, Guerriero claimed how McGonigal would spend lavishly on her – far more than his FBI salary would typically allow. Guerriero is pictured with FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas Leff of the San Juan Field Division in 2019

McGonigal did so, prosecutors allege, without revealing to the FBI or Justice Department his financial connections to the man.

In her interview, Guerriero claimed how McGonigal would spend lavishly on her – far more than his FBI salary would typically allow.

He would give her gifts of of $500 or $1,000 for her birthday and Christmas – and even gave a homeless person $100 on the street.

She only decided to blow the lid off their relationship after finding out he was married with two teenage children, and wanted to remain so, staying with the woman he would refer to as his ‘ex-wife’.

After a drinking session and in a fit of jealousy, Guerriero emailed McGonigal’s boss, William Sweeney who was in charge of the FBI’s New York City bureau, directly.

She revealed details of the affair to him together with extensive dealings she had noticed McGonigal had with contacts in Albania. 

McGonigal had befriended Albania’s prime minister had gone back and forth to the country several times. 

McGonigal secretly met with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama (above) in September 2017, where he gave Rama ‘FBI paraphernalia’, the indictment states

After a drinking session and in a fit of jealousy, Guerriero emailed McGonigal’s boss, William Sweeney, pictured, who was in charge of the FBI’s New York City bureau, directly

Indeed, McGonigal is now accused of spinning his own web of deception in multiple alleged schemes to profit from illegal foreign payments. 

The most stunning charge accuses him of working with a former Soviet diplomat-turned-Russian interpreter on behalf of Deripaska , a Russian billionaire they purportedly referred to in code as ‘the big guy’ and ‘the client.’

McGonigal, who had supervised and participated in investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Deripaska, worked to have Deripaska’s sanctions lifted in 2019 and took money from him in 2021 to investigate a rival oligarch, the Justice Department said.

Speaking of why she decided to blow the whistle on her former lover Guerriero claims: ‘I was shocked, I was very much in love with him, and I was so hurt.’ 

Charles McGonigal and wife leaves Manhattan Federal Court after he was arraigned on charges he violated US sanctions and freed on a $500,000 bail

Three years after sending the email, federal agents showed up on her doorstep to inquire about McGonigal together with the allegations she had made over any Albanian connections he had made. They even showed her a picture of McGonigal with the Albanian Prime Minister.

The agents questioned her about all of her communications with McGonigal and focused especially on any ‘payments or gifts’ he may have given her. 

‘Charlie McGonigal knew everybody in the national security and law-enforcement world,’ Guerriero said to Insider. ‘He fooled them all. So why should I feel bad that he was able to deceive me?’ 

Guerrierio spent a night in jail after she harassed McGonigal’s wife, Pamela, pictured, and her children after making 20 phone calls in a day and sending a series of abusive emails 

Guerriero has admitted that her grudge against him led her to carry out some obsessive and disturbing behavior herself, including writing to McGonigal’s family. 

‘I really did go overboard. I harassed them. I’m not going to deny that. I was horrible to them.’ 

Things got so bad on Guerriero’s end following the end of the affair that she spent a night in jail after she harassed McGonigal’s wife, Pamela, and her children. 

It saw Guerriero breaching a restraining order that had been put in place against her in New Jersey following a series of ‘nasty’ emails and 20 telephone calls made to the wife and children in just one day alone.

‘I am ashamed and embarrassed and sorry for my actions during the time that I was drinking,’ she said to Insider.

Things also started to get worse for Guerriero when in early 2021, she was badly burned during a fire at her father’s home leading her to ask for help through GoFundMe

Things also started to get worse for Guerriero when in early 2021, she was badly burned during a fire at her father’s home leading her to ask for help through GoFundMe.

The FBI has refused to comment on any of Guerriero’s tale but notes how the organization holds their employees to ‘the highest standard’ treating everyone equally, ‘even when it is one of our own.’ 

McGonigal worked for the FBI from 1996 until his retirement in 2018, and from 2016 until he left the bureau he was the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in the New York field office

McGonigal worked for the FBI from 1996 until his retirement in 2018, and from 2016 until he left the bureau he was the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in the New York field office.

As well as playing a in high-profile investigations, including Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s purported ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, he also led an FBI team that investigated why CIA informants in China were being arrested and killed — a probe that led to the arrest and conviction of Chinese double agent Jerry Chun Shing Lee. 

In a bureau-wide email Monday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said McGonigal’s alleged conduct ‘is entirely inconsistent with what I see from the men and women of the FBI who demonstrate every day through their actions that they’re worthy of the public´s trust.’ 

Pamela Fox McGonigal and husband Charles McGonigal are pictured during happier times


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Western Elites — Rubles Bought (Some of) the Best

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In the past weeks there has been a whirlwind of stories exposing the Kremlin’s successful post-Cold War infiltration of the West. Arrests, jailings, and news stories have highlighted allegations of the involvement of high-profile individuals and institutions (sometimes unwittingly) to assist Russian intelligence and Kremlin-linked oligarchs. Taken as a whole, it paints a picture of a West subverted by cash.  

In back-to-back breaking stories, a former senior FBI official was arrested over his dealings with Oleg Deripaska, one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs; a German was held on suspicion of passing intelligence to Russia; and questions were asked in Parliament in London about reports that the government had helped Wagner Mercenary Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin bypass its own sanctions so he could sue a critical journalist. 

The events offer a snapshot into the decades of Russian influence operations that have infiltrated sensitive institutions and sought to embrace and compromise high-profile Western figures. 

The FBI arrested one of their own, former agent Charles McGonigal, on January 23 along with his alleged co-conspirator Sergey Shestakov, for working on behalf of Deripaska, who they referred to as the “the big guy” and “the client.” McGonigal is a senior FBI counter-intelligence officer who is accused of approaching Deripaska to campaign for his removal from sanctions lists in return for cash. Deripaska is sanctioned by the US Treasury for operating on behalf of the Russian government and is alleged to have “bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman and had links to a Russian organized crime group.” He was charged with sanctions evasion by the US last year. 

McGonigal worked for more than two decades at the FBI in its Russian counterintelligence, organized crime, and counterespionage units, and had a role in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. According to the indictment, while he headed the FBI New York counterintelligence unit, McGonigal secretly worked with Shestakov, a retired diplomat from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and had contacts with another Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) agent.  

In another high-profile espionage case, German authorities arrested a man, identified only as Arthur E, at Munich airport on January 22 as he returned from the US. He is suspected of passing highly sensitive information to Russia on his own behalf as well as for German intelligence officer Carsten L., who was arrested last month. On January 19, a Swedish court sentenced a senior employee of its counter-intelligence service to life in prison and his brother to 10 years for spying for Russia for more than a decade.  

An Italian navy captain was held after allegedly selling confidential documents to a Russian military officer, while in Bulgaria several people were arrested, including three defense ministry officials, over suspicions of spying for Russia. The authorities also arrested a Russian-born couple on suspicion of spying in November. In addition, Norway, Poland, and the Netherlands arrested alleged GRU agents last year. 

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The warning signs have been there for a long time in many European countries. A 2020 Parliamentary report detailed extensive Russian influence in the UK, and stated: “[Russian] money was . . . invested in extending patronage and building influence across a wide sphere of the British establishment – PR firms, charities, political interests, academia, and cultural institutions were all willing beneficiaries of Russian money, contributing to a ‘reputation laundering’ process. In brief, Russian influence in the UK is ‘the new normal’, and there are a lot of Russians with very close links to Putin who are well integrated into the UK business and social scene, and accepted because of their wealth.” Very senior UK politicians from both parties were linked to wealthy Russians, and the issue has continued to rumble on since the outbreak of all-out war. 

Meanwhile, Germany has seen mass arrests and 150 search warrants executed after the uncovering of a plot to overthrow the government and install a monarchy. Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a former member of parliament for the far-right AfD party, which has long been supported by Russia, was among those held.  

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, quickly denied Russian involvement and said it was an internal German matter. Russia’s denials are often confirmations, and a short while later it was revealed that the partner of coup organizer Prince Heinrich XIII, a Russian woman identified as Vitalia B, was asked to approach Moscow on Heinrich’s behalf. It also emerged that the prince met at least once with Russian diplomats at a consulate in Germany.  

Meanwhile, OpenDemocracy published a story alleging that the UK government enabled Wagner’s Evgeny Prigozhin to circumvent sanctions in 2021 and launch a legal case against Eliot Higgins, founder of the Bellingcat investigations collective. Bellingcat has developed a fearsome reputation for identifying Russian intelligence operations and agents operating across Europe and beyond.  

Sanctions designed to prevent financial dealings with Prigozhin were waved through by the UK Treasury, and special licenses were issued to allow Prigozhin to pay for legal action against Higgins, the website said.  

The licenses enabled a British law firm handling the case to accept direct wire transfers from Prigozhin in Russia, despite the sanctions and Wagner’s long list of bloody interventions across Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Mali, Latin America, and Ukraine. UK Treasury minister James Cartlidge refused to comment on the specific case but told Parliament the process for allowing sanctioned people to pay legal fees is being reviewed.  

European countries are on heightened alert for sanctions-busting and are urgently working to root out Russian spies and collaborators among their intelligence services, state agencies, and armed forces. With NATO states and Russia in open conflict — if not war — this is clearly an urgent issue. 

The war in Ukraine has for now derailed Putin’s strategy and made working with the Russians less palatable in the West than previously. It may even be that, as during the Cold War, association with Russia’s bloody, imperial regime now carries an aura of shame. 

It is clear that oligarchs are no longer welcome in the salons of Paris, Washington, and London, and it will be a long time before politicians again want to be seen anywhere near them.  

The Soviet Union collapsed in part because it was a closed state cut off from financial dealings with the West. As governments identify and apprehend alleged traitors, the Kremlin once again looks to have been isolated despite its huge illicit investments. 

Olga Lautman is a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), the host of the Kremlin File podcast , and an analyst/researcher focusing on Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe. 

Europe’s Edge is an online journal covering crucial topics in the transatlantic policy debate. All opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or views of the institutions they represent or the Center for European Policy Analysis.

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Former top FBI official charged with violating Russia sanctions – WHO TV 13 Des Moines News & Weather

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Former top FBI official charged with violating Russia sanctions  WHO TV 13 Des Moines News & Weather

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Albanian Daily News – albaniandailynews.com

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Albanian Daily News  albaniandailynews.com

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How Bill Barr and John Durham Blazed a Trail for Jim Jordan – The Bulwark

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How Bill Barr and John Durham Blazed a Trail for Jim Jordan  The Bulwark

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Biden and Trump Both Mishandled Classified Documents – But the Cases Appear Different – The Wire

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Biden and Trump Both Mishandled Classified Documents – But the Cases Appear Different  The Wire

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Intelligence Failures – Freethought Blogs –

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Intelligence Failures  Freethought Blogs –

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U.S. home prices fall for 5th straight month in November, Case-Shiller index shows

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U.S. home prices fall for 5th straight month in November, Case-Shiller index shows

The numbers: The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city price index fell a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in November, marking the fifth consecutive monthly decline. Year-on-year appreciation was still up 8.6% annually, down from a 10.4% increase in October. A broader measure of home prices, the national…

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