A Russian spy posing as a banker was arrested in the Bronx, New York, federal prosecutors revealed Monday — but that’s not all. The accused spy for Vladimir Putin was gathering information on high-speed market trading with an eye to figuring how to upend the financial markets and trigger another massive economic collapse.
The information about the mission of alleged Russian spy Evgeny Buryakov — pictured above in a courtroom artist’s rendition — comes from a 26-page complaint made public by the feds Monday. The full complaint with full details of Buryakov’s spy operation, as prosecutors and the FBI describe it, can be accessed at this link.
The complaint does not make clear whether Buryakov, who is accused of running a spy ring with two other Russian agents, was planning to try to take down U.S. financial markets at some point, or was simply gathering intelligence to protect Russian markets from a United States computer attack.
Buryakov’s two alleged accomplices in the spy ring were named as Igor Sporyshev, a Russian trade representative, and Victor Podobnyy, a United Nations diplomat. Because both possessed diplomatic immunity, neither could be arrested or charged, and are reported to no longer reside in the United States anyway.
Buryakov, however, was undercover as a Deputy Representative for Vnesheconombank, or Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs, which in the former Soviet Union functioned as an actual bank, but now serves to bring foreign investment to Russia and does not actually act as a commercial bank.
In reality, however, the FBI says that the 39-year-old Buryakov is really a secret agent working for the SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service.
“The arrest of Evgeny Buryakov and the charges against him and his co-defendants make clear that — more than two decades after the presumptive end of the Cold War — Russian spies continue to seek to operate in our midst under cover of secrecy,” federal prosecutor Preet Bharara declared Monday.
In addition to gathering intelligence about high speed market trading, of the kind that brought down the Lehman Brothers investment bank in 2008 triggering the global economic collapse, Buryakov is also accused of attempting to recruit New Yorkers to serve as intelligence sources for the SVR, and of secretly passing information to the Russian government.
Buryakov and his accused co-conspirators initially came under suspicion nearly five years ago, when the feds broke up a Russian spy ring whose most prominent member was the photogenic, red-haired female Russian spy Anna Chapman — real name: Anya Anya Kushchenko.
But Buryakov was in the U.S. under his own name and, according to the federal complaint, often griped to his fellow agents that acting as a Russian spy was not nearly as glamorous and exciting as he hoped it would be.