(CN) – Three Russian spies tried to cull U.S. economic intelligence about potential sanctions against Russian banks and plans for alternative energy resources to send to Moscow, federal prosecutors said Monday.
Evgeny Buryakov was arrested Monday in the Bronx and appeared in Manhattan Federal Court, according to the federal complaint unsealed Monday.
Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podohbnyy no longer live in the United States and remain at large.
Buryakov worked in the United States as an agent of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, known as the SVR, in a Russian bank’s Manhattan office, according to the Department of Justice.
The SVR- Sluzhba vneshney razvedki – is the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
Sporyshev and Podobnyy, also SVR agents, worked in the United States to gather intelligence by posing as Russian representatives from 2010 to 2014, Uncle Sam says. Sporyshev acted as a trade representative for the Russian Federation in New York.
Podobnyy acted as an attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations between 2012 and 2013.
Because of their status as Russian officials, Sporyshev and Podobnyy were not required to notify the U.S. Attorney General’s office of their work.
But prosecutors say those exemptions did not allow them to conspire with Buryakov to work as an unregistered Russian agent.
Sporyshev relayed assignments from the SVR to Buryakov, and Sporyshev and Podobnyy analyzed the data and reported back to the SVR about his efforts. The feds say the three met at least 48 times from 2012 to 2014 using “clandestine methods and coded messages … while shielding their associations with one another as SVR agents.”
Buryakov couldn’t access the SVR New York office without getting caught, so he needed Sporyshev and Podobnyy to relay the information to Moscow from the agency’s New York office, prosecutors say.
During those meetings, Buryakov allegedly passed a “bag, magazine or slip of paper” to Sporyshev.
The meetings started with a quick call between Buryakov and Sporyshev, wherein they’d tell each other they had information to relay. Those calls were intercepted by the FBI.
Sporyshev and Podobnyy were caught on tape trying to recruit young American women at an unnamed New York City university t work as sources for the SVR.
Buryakov was collared when he met with an FBI agent posing as the representative of a wealthy investor seeking casino development deals in Russia.
Buryakov, 39, Sporyshev, 40, and Podobnyy, 27, face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy.
Buryakov faces an additional count, and up to 10 years in prison, for acting as an agent for a foreign government in the United States without notifying the U.S. Attorney General.
“These charges demonstrate our firm commitment to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “We will use every tool at our disposal to identify and hold accountable foreign agents operating inside this country – no matter how deep their cover.”
Added U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara: “More than two decades after the presumptive end of the Cold War … Russian spies continue to seek to operate in our midst under cover of secrecy.”
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