CLEVELAND – A former New York-area banker, who was convicted in federal court of conspiring to act in the United States as an agent of the Russian Federation, was removed to Moscow Wednesday, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Evgeny Buryakov, aka Zhenya, 42, formerly of the New York area, was repatriated on board commercial flights, escorted by Cleveland-based ERO deportation officers and turned over to Russian authorities.
In March 2016, Buryako pleaded guilty to conspiring to work covertly as a Russian agent in the United States without notifying the Attorney General, paving the way for his deportation. As part of his plea agreement, he relinquished all claims to status in the United States, and agreed to enter ICE custody at the conclusion of his federal prison term. Buryako was turned over to ICE March 31, after his release from the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Elkton, Indiana.
According to evidence presented in federal court proceedings, Buryakov worked in the United States for almost four years as an agent of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, known as the SVR. Buryakov operated under non-official cover, meaning he entered and remained in the United States as a private citizen, posing as an employee in the New York office of a Russian bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB). SVR agents operating under such non-official cover (NOCs) are typically subject to less scrutiny by the host government and, in many cases, are never identified as intelligence agents by the host government.
Federal law strictly prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments within the United States without prior notification to the United States Attorney General. Department of Justice records indicate that Buryakov never notified the United States Attorney General that he was, in fact, an agent of the Russian Federation.
In fiscal year 2016, ICE conducted 240,255 removals nationwide. Ninety-two percent of individuals removed from the interior of the United States had previously been convicted of a criminal offense.