Russian Banker Falls for FBI Trap, Pleads Guilty to Spy Charges
In what sounds like the plotline for a Cold War-era movie, 41-year-old Evgeny Buryakov pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to act in the United States as an unregistered intelligence agent of the Russian Federation.
Posing as a New York banker for at least four years, Buryakov, aka Zhenya, was gathering intelligence on the streets of New York City, trading coded messages with Russian spies who send the clandestinely collected information back to Moscow, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York in a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In 2012, Buryakov unknowingly began meeting with an undercover FBI agent who he thought was an energy company analyst. The agent began supplying bugged binders to Buryakov in 2013, urging him to return them as soon as he was finished with them because they were sensitive and confidential, court documents say.
Over the next few months, FBI was able to record hours of conversations between Buryakov and other suspected agents.
The recordings "make clear" that the men "were operating as SVR officers by receiving taskings from Moscow, gathering responsive information and sending it back to SVR headquarters," the court documents say.
Federal law prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments within the U.S. without providing prior notice to the Attorney General. According to Department of Justice records, Buryakov never notified the Attorney General that he was an agent of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, known as the SVR.
According to court documents, “Buryakov operated under non-official cover, meaning he entered and remained in the United States as a private citizen, posing as an employee in the New York office of a Russian bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB).”
Buryakov’s lawyer has yet to release a statement, and Buryakov will be sentenced on May 25, 2016, where he faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Posted in The Takedown