Evgeny Buryakov, who was the only man arrested early last year among three indicted for allegedly spying on U.S. economic intelligence about potential sanctions against Russian banks and plans for alternative energy resources, on Friday pleaded down to a conspiracy charge, according to Courthouse News.
The man’s alleged co-conspirators Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podohbnyy no longer live in the United States and remain at large.
In his original indictment, federal prosecutors said that Buryakov worked for Russia's foreign intelligence agency, known as the Sluzhba vneshney razvedki (SVR), in the Manhattan office of the Russian bank Vnesheconombank.
Buryakov's superseding indictment, which does not mention SVR, carried two counts prohibiting conspiracies to defraud the United States and being an agent of a foreign government.
On Friday, Buryakov pleaded guilty to one of those counts in a plea deal only including the fraud count. He will be sentenced May 25.
In a carefully worded statement, Buryakov said: "I knowingly agreed with Igor Sporyshev, who I knew to be an official of the Russian Federation, namely an official with the New York Office of the Trade Mission of the Russian Federation, that I would take certain actions in the United States at Mr. Sporyshev's direction, without my having provided prior notification as an agent of the Russian Federation, as required, to the Attorney General."
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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara cut through the legalese. "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," Bharara wrote 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."