NEW YORK, May 26 (UPI) -- A Russian spy who worked as a New York banker in a "cold war-style" spy ring was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison.
Evgeny Buryakov, 41, was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. He pleaded guilty in March to working in the United States as an agent for Russia's SVR intelligence agency, operating under "non-official cover," meaning he moved to the United States as a private citizen and posed as an employee in the New York office of a Russian bank, Vnesheconombank.
Non-official agents are permitted to operate in the United States but must receive prior authorization from the U.S. attorney general. Buryakov did not get such permission.
"Evgeny Buryakov, in the guise of being a legitimate banker, gathered intelligence as an agent of the Russian Federation in New York," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, of the Southern District of New York, said. "He traded coded messages with one of his Russian spy co-defendants, who sent the clandestinely collected information back to Moscow. So long as this type of cold war-style spy intrigue continues to go on in present-day New York City, the FBI and the prosecutors in my office will continue to investigate and prosecute it."
Prosecutors said beginning in 2012, Buryakov worked in New York City with at least two other SVR agents, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy. Under the direction of the SVR, the spies gathered intelligence on "potential U.S. sanctions against Russian banks and the United States' efforts to develop alternative energy resources," the U.S. attorney's office said. They used "clandestine methods and coded messages" to communicate, prosecutors said.
By 2014, an FBI had infiltrated the spy ring, working under the guise of developing a casino project in Russia. During meetings, Buryakov took documents that were purportedly obtained from a U.S. government agency and allegedly contained information about U.S. sanctions against Russia.
Russia has denied the men were involved in spying activities for the Kremlin while in the United States.
Sporyshev and Podobnyy were charged with conspiracy to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the attorney general and aiding and abetting Buryakov's actions. They were not arrested and no longer reside in the United States.