From Dorian Ducka, Agron Neza to the businessman-politician, VOA reveals all the ties of the arrested former FBI official with Albania

2023-01-24 18:36:18Fokus SHKRUAR NGA KEIDA KOSTRECI
Charles McGonigal

On Wednesday, former top FBI counterintelligence official Charles McGonigal, arrested Saturday by US authorities, is expected to appear in court in Washington to say whether or not he admits to charges that he took money from a former - an employee of the Albanian intelligence services and for his connections with other officials in Albania.

On Monday, he denied further charges brought against him in New York that he violated US sanctions on Russia by working for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The court decided to release him against payment, while the judicial process will take place.

Charles McGonigal worked for the counterintelligence division of the FBI until he left the FBI in September 2018 and covered Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, among others.

He is accused of having received 225,000 dollars from a former employee of the secret services of Albania and having held a series of meetings with businessmen and politicians in Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia, but without reporting them according to the rules.

According to the indictment, his main connections with Albania were maintained through the former Albanian official of the secret services, who is identified in the indictment as Person A. This person also paid for his travel expenses to Albania.

The indictment made public yesterday by the court in Washington does not further identify Person A. But, based on another US press release, in September of last year, which announced that former FBI official McGonigal was under investigations, the "Business Insider" portal publishes a copy of a grand jury document, where in the list of those who would be called to testify, the Albanian-American citizen Agron Neza , who decades ago worked for the intelligence services of Albania.

The second person from Albania, related to the former FBI official, is identified in the indictment as Person B, who "was an Albanian citizen, employed by a Chinese energy conglomerate. Person B served as an unofficial advisor to the Prime Minister of Albania, who had an official Albanian government email account and passport and was a former senior official of the Albanian government."

If we refer again to the grand jury document, in it, the other person who should have been interrogated is Dorian Ducka, former Deputy Minister for Energy and then an independent consultant.

Person A and Person B, according to the indictment, "were friends and business partners with each other."

According to the charging document, during a trip to Albania in 2017, " on September 9, the defendant McGonigal met with the Albanian Prime Minister [Edi Rama] and Person B [Dorian Ducka]. At the request of Person A [Agron Neza], he called on the Prime Minister to be careful and not to grant licenses for oil exploration in Albania to a Russian shell company. Persons A and B had financial interests from the decision of the Albanian government. Defendant McGonigal gave the Prime Minister an FBI souvenir in the presence of Person B."

The indictment establishes a direct link between the former FBI official's meetings with the Albanian prime minister in the presence of third parties A and B, who were private citizens. It is unclear why the prime minister met with a senior FBI official in the presence of private individuals.

Asked by the Voice of America, regarding the Prime Minister's relationship with the former FBI official, the government spokesman denied that the meetings had anything to do with what is stated in the indictment: "As he clarified before, the Prime Minister Edi Rama had a friendly relationship with the FBI official, with whom they met several times, either in Tirana or in New York, but their meetings had nothing to do with what is stated in the indictment in question regarding other people."

According to the indictment, it was after this trip to Albania in September that " defendant McGonigal maintained an ongoing friendship with the Prime Minister [Rama]."

According to the indictment, from September 2017 to March 2018, McGonigal and Prime Minister Rama met 4 times in Albania and the USA.

According to the indictment, during the September 2017 visit, McGonigal "was introduced by person A to an Albanian businessman and politician, who asked him for help, for someone to investigate a suspected plot to kill the businessman and politician."

A few weeks after these meetings, on October 5, 2017, according to the indictment, "outside a restaurant, in a parked car in New York, McGonigal received nearly $80,000 in cash from Person A. That same fall, he also received two payments of others from Person A in the amounts of $80,000 and $65,000 at the residence of Resident A. McGonigal made it clear to Person A that he would return the money."

Two months after the visit to Albania, on November 18, 2017, McGonigal, together with a prosecutor from the Department of Justice, met and interviewed in Austria, the businessman-politician, whom he had met in September in Albania. Person A participated in this meeting as an interpreter.

The businessman-politician's interview was not reported and does not appear in FBI documents. On the same day of the interview in Austria, on November 18, McGonigal and the businessman-politician also met in Albania, but this time without the presence of the Justice Department prosecutor. According to the indictment, " the politician-businessman discussed with the defendant McGonigal and Person A about business opportunities".

"On November 19, the defendant meets with Person B for dinner, and a day later, on November 20, he meets with Prime Minister n", according to the indictment.

Shortly after returning from Albania, on November 25, McGonigal informs the Justice Department Prosecutor, with whom he met the politician-businessman in Austria, about a possible criminal investigation of an American citizen who had registered to lobby "for a party that was not Prime Minister Rama's ". According to the indictment, a day earlier McGonigal had received information about this lobbyist from Person B.

The indictment does not identify the American lobbyist nor the Albanian party. But on November 14, 2017, lobbyist Nick Muzin filed with the Department of Justice, albeit late, the documents on the lobbying activity of several months ago on behalf of the DP, which has subsequently become the subject of an investigation in Albania for the origin of money.

In the indictment against McGonigal, it is mentioned that in December 2017 he met in Washington with Person A and officials of the Albanian government and in New York with Person A and Prime Minister Rama.

On January 4, 2018, according to the indictment, McGonigal received information about the American lobbyist from Person A and the next day sent the information to another agent in the FBI's New York office.

On January 22 he again received information from Person A about the lobbyist and sent it to a subordinate. Person A, according to the accusation, had received the information from the office of the Prime Minister of Albania.

According to the indictment, “ on February 26, 2018, the FBI's New York office formally opened an investigation focused on the American lobbyist at the request and under the direction of Mr. McGonigal. Person A was subsequently identified as a confidential source in support of the investigation. Person A provided information to the FBI's New York office during the investigation."

According to the indictment , "Person B then helped organize a meeting between the FBI office in New York and the witnesses in Europe, paying, among other things, for the witnesses' travel expenses."

On June 25, 2018, Defendant McGonigal proposed that Person A sign a contract with an individual from Bosnia identified as Person D so that $500,000 would be deposited into Person A's company by Person D and his pharmaceutical firm. to facilitate a meeting between Person D and a representative of the US delegation to the UN.

Meanwhile, in April, McGonigal had met in Germany with two individuals from Bosnia, Person C and Person D, who had requested to meet with the US ambassador to the UN, or some other high-ranking official, on a political matter about Bosnia and Herzegovina. .

Allegations of violation of sanctions against Russia

The other indictment against the former senior FBI official is related to helping the Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, in violation of US sanctions. His activity in favor of the Russian billionaire took place after he left the FBI. He is accused of collaborating with a former Russian diplomat, Sergey Shestakov, who was already working as a translator for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

On or about August 2021, McGonigal, Shestakov, and a person identified as Agent 1 (Deripaskas' Advisor) drafted and executed a contract whereby a Cyprus Corporation would pay a New Jersey Company $51,280 in advance and after 41,790 thousand every month for business intelligence information of interest to the Russian corporation. Although the payments were to be made to McGonigal and Shestakov on behalf of Deripaskas, neither is named in the contract.

According to the New York lawsuit, the New Jersey company is owned by a "Friend" of Mr. McGonigal. "The friend" had helped McGonigal get involved with the New Jersey company while he was still an agent with the FBI.

In a document of the Department of Justice, where lobbying activities for foreign governments, (FARA) filed by Shestakov, although few details are contained, the name Charles McGonigal and the firm "Spectrum Risk Solutions" are mentioned.

This firm, in the grand jury document released last year, appears as Agron Neza's company.

According to the New York lawsuit, McGonigal told Shestakov that he "didn't inform "Mik" that he was using his company to get the money from the contract. Shestakov forged Miku's signature without his knowledge or approval. When the Friend then asked McGonigal to explain why the Russian Bank was making payments to the New Jersey Company, McGonigal said the payment was for "Legitimate" work he was doing for a "Russian tycoon." The friend then agreed to use his Company and transferred funds in accordance with the contract, under McGonigal's direction, to him and Shestakov./ VOA