Charles McGonigal – the former FBI official who was arrested and charged by US authorities for his ties to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska – has quietly spent the last year working for another Russian-born billionaire, it has been learned The Post.
Aman Resorts, a chain of five-star hotels owned by Vladislav Doronin – a martial arts-trained real estate mogul who has been called “Russia’s answer to Donald Trump” – hired McGonigal in the spring of 2022 for a job as director of security for Aman’s 34 sites around the world, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
Indeed, sources have speculated that when McGonigal was arrested at JFK airport on Saturday, he was returning from a business trip to Sri Lanka, where Aman operates two swanky hotels.
Sources said McGonigal worked for Aman in New York, where the company opened its first property in August on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in the former Crown Building, quickly earning a reputation as the most expensive property in the Big Apple with room rates starting at $2,400 per night.
A spokesperson for Aman confirmed that the company hired McGonigal last year, but maintained that his tenure began just months ago.
“Mr. McGonigal was hired by Aman Group in the fall of 2022 as Global Head of Security, based on his qualifications and similar role in the real estate industry, as well as his two decades with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the Aman rep said.
The company also said McGonigal no longer works for Aman Group, but did not reveal when he left.
A former Aman employee who left the hotel group said the office culture was more Russian than American and could be “demanding” and “uncomfortable”.
The company said: “Aman Group was founded 35 years ago and has built its own distinctive culture enriched by its global presence in more than 20 countries, reflecting the contributions and collaboration of a diverse international workforce of 6,500 employees. in the world.
In September, Business Insider reported that federal prosecutors were looking into McGonigal’s involvement with Deripaska, a US-sanctioned Russian billionaire who allegedly turned to McGonigal to get sanctions lifted.
“Based on his background, we thought it was very odd that he was brought in” – and that McGonigal stayed after reports surfaced that he was under investigation, said said a former Aman employee.
“The process was very murky,” added another source. A general director of security at Aman “was in place”, but was transferred and “no apparent reason was given”, according to the source. “That’s when Charlie came along.”
Following McGonigal’s retirement from the FBI in 2018 – where he was chief of counterintelligence in the agency’s New York office and led the Trump “Russiagate” investigation into whether Russia interfered in the presidential election of 2016 – McGonigal was hired as senior vice president for global security. at real estate giant Brookfield Properties.
He left that role in January 2022, Brookfield said. McGonigal – whose hiring at Aman has raised eyebrows among hotel staff, the sources say – told Aman employees he left Brookfield for “personal reasons”, a source close to the company said. the situation at the Post.
Former CIA, FBI and NSA officials are regularly hired by big companies that are targets of espionage and cyber threats, said Anthony Roman, president of risk management firm Roman & Associates.
“It’s an easy, consistent stop for these officials,” Roman said.
McGonigal’s attorney, Seth DuCharme, did not respond to comments. The Department of Justice also did not respond.
On Monday, McGonigal, 54, was charged with money laundering and violating US sanctions law. The Justice Department alleges that McGonigal and a former Russian diplomat turned interpreter for federal courts — Sergy Shestakov — worked for Deripaska, an aluminum tycoon who was sanctioned by the United States in 2018.
During his tenure at the FBI, McGonigal oversaw investigations into oligarchs, including Deripaska, who was sanctioned by the United States for allegedly acting on behalf of the Russian government in the energy sector. The government alleges that Deripaska hired the couple to get him off the sanctions list and to investigate one of his rival oligarchs, paying them through front companies.
McGonigal pleaded not guilty and was released on $500,000 bond.
Doronin’s ties to McGonigal will surely raise more questions as prosecutors examine his Russian dealings, experts say.
“With Doronin, it’s not the same as Deripaska, who is under sanctions,” said Louise Shelley, founder and executive director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, and president of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.
“But McGonigal was in the pay of a powerful Russian,” Shelley added, referring to the fact that McGonigal was in the pay of Aman. “It’s certainly a cushy job that brings in a lot of money. It’s a very good job in retirement, but that makes him more connected to the Russian elite in the world. »
Born in the Soviet Union, Doronin, 60, renounced his Russian citizenship in 1986. He is now a Swiss and Swedish citizen and has spoken out against the war in Ukraine. It bought Aman in 2014 and moved its headquarters to Sweden.
Doronin dated model Naomi Campbell for several years before his current partner, Kristina Romanova, a former Russian model who is an executive at Aman. He is a martial arts practitioner of Qigong, who is said to have shown the ability to smash marble slabs with his head and smash metal-tipped wooden spears against his throat, according to Wikipedia.
Doronin, who also owns property development company OKO Group, said in media interviews that he ended his business relationship with Russia in 2014 when he sold his stake in the Moscow-based property company. CapitalGroup.
Last year, RealDeal reported that court documents showed he held a stake in a separate Moscow-based company as recently as 2022, when he transferred ownership to his mother who still lives in Russia. Doronin replied that the company only held “legacy assets” that were slowly being liquidated and that he had not been involved in any development activity since 2014.
Last year, Doronin sued the Aspen Times for defamation, claiming the publication mischaracterized him as a Russian “oligarch” in a series of articles about land he bought in the area.
The lawsuit was settled and The Aspen Times editor Andrew Travers was fired. Travers wrote an article in The Atlantic in August about the newspaper’s flap with Doronin under the title “End Times in Aspen: How to Kill a Newspaper”.
In a statement on the lawsuit, Aman’s spokesperson said that “the newspaper itself ultimately declared that (the articles) failed to meet its ‘standards of accuracy, fairness and objectivity.’ Similarly, The Aspen Times expressed regret for statements Mr. Doronin claimed were defamatory and retracted and corrected several articles.
Jennifer Gould contributed reporting.