United States federal prosecutors announced charges against three men who they said were part of a Russian spy ring in New York on January 26.
Evgeny Buryakov, 39, was arrested in the Bronx earlier on January 26, and was scheduled to appear before a judge. The other two men, Igor Sporyshev, 40, and Victor Podobnyy, 27, no longer reside in the United States and were not arrested, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Moreover, they were protected by diplomatic immunity while in the United States.
The men were charged with two counts, carrying a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Attorney General Eric Holder said: “These charges demonstrate our firm commitment to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States."
The charges were brought by Holder, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the FBI.
Buryakov worked at the Manhattan office of a Russian bank, according to the complaint. All three were allegedly agents of the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence agency.
A man by Buryakov's name is listed as the Deputy Representative to Russian state-owned bank Vnesheconombank in New York. The bank did not respond to phone and email requests for comment.
Buryakov allegedly worked under "non-official cover," meaning that he was a private citizen in the United States. The United States accused the other two men of operating as official government representatives of the Russian Federation. The men were allegedly tasked with finding out information on United States sanctions against Russian banks and efforts to develop alternative energy resources.
The criminal complaint issued on January 23 by the Department of Justice refers to clandestine meetings, coded messages and the exchanging of documents.
The complaint details efforts by the men to recruit United States residents as intelligence assets, including several people employed by major companies and young women with ties to a major university in New York.
Podobnyy explained his recruitment method for getting sources, in the case of one a male consultant. “This is intelligence method to cheat...You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go [expletive] himself.”
Buryakov and Sporyshev also allegedly were taped helping formulate questions for a "leading Russian state-owned news organization" to ask New York Stock Exchange employees.
Buryakov also allegedly met with a confidential source working for the FBI who posed as a wealthy investor looking to develop casinos in Russia. The source handed a purported internal document from the Department of Treasury that contained a list of Russian individuals sanctioned by the United States.