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Purported banker in New York admits he was actually a Russian spy

By MATT ZAPOTOSKY | The Washington Post | Published: March 11, 2016

A man posing as a banker in the United States admitted Friday he was actually a Russian spy helping run a conspiracy that could have been ripped from the headlines of the Cold War era, prosecutors said.

Evgeny Buryakov, 41, pleaded guilty to conspiring to act in the United States as an agent of the Russian Federation, prosecutors said. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison at his sentencing in May.

Buryakov, prosecutors said, posed as an employee in the New York office of a Russian bank while gathering information for the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence agency, on potential U.S. sanctions against Russian banks and American efforts to develop alternative energy resources.

"An unregistered intelligence agent, under cover of being a legitimate banker, gathers intelligence on the streets of New York City, trading coded messages with Russian spies who send the clandestinely collected information back to Moscow," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "This sounds like a plotline for a Cold War-era movie, but in reality, Evgeny Buryakov pled guilty today to a federal crime for his role in just such a scheme."

Prosecutors said Buryakov worked with at least two others, SVR agents who had official covers at the United Nations and as a trade representative, respectively. They were also charged, but no longer live in the United States and have not been arrested. Investigators intercepted conversations between the men, caught them on video surveillance and — eventually — were able to have Buryakov meet with people working for the FBI who purported to be working on a casino development project in Russia, prosecutors said.
 

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