A Russian banker accused of participating in a Cold War-style spy ring pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy in a deal that will get him 30 months behind bars.
Evgeny Buryakov, 40, admitted in Manhattan Federal Court that he acted as an agent of the Russian government for three years when he worked with diplomats gathering sensitive economic intelligence on potential U.S. sanctions against Russian banks and on U.S. efforts to develop alternative energy sources.
“More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, Russian spies still seek to operate in our midst under the cover of secrecy,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
From 2012 to 2015, Buryakov lived in Riverdale with his wife and two children near the Russian mission to the United Nations.
During that time, he worked for the state-owned bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB.
But federal prosecutors said the job was a cover for his spying activities.
Buryakov’s lawyers, who were supplied by the bank, argued he did not have to declare himself as a foreign agent because his visa clearly showed that he was working for an arm of the Russian state.
However, prosecutors said he lied on paperwork by saying he would not be involved in any espionage.
Buryakov was accused of working with two other agents for the Russian foreign intelligence agency known as the SVR with “nonofficial cover” which means he was subject to less scrutiny by U.S. officials than spies who formally register as foreign agents. Those agents left the U.S. when Buryakov was arrested.
From March 2012 through mid-September 2014, FBI agents conducted physical and electronic surveillance of Buryakov and one of those agents, watching Buryakov pass him a bag, magazine or slip of paper in an outdoor setting where it is more difficult to catch what they’re saying on a wire.
Prosecutors said they set up the meetings by speaking in code about exchanging “tickets,” “umbrellas” or other items.
The arrests came years after Manhattan prosecutors busted a 12-person spy ring operating in New York, that included flame-haired femme fatale Anna Chapman.