March 11, 2016 / 1:27 AM / 3 years ago

Russian accused by U.S. of spy ring role expected to plead guilty

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Russian citizen who U.S. authorities have accused of posing as a banker while participating in a spy ring operating in New York City is expected to plead guilty on Friday.

Evgeny Buryakov, 41, had been set to face to trial in federal court in Manhattan on April 4 on charges that he failed to register as an agent of the Russian government and conspired to act as an agent without registering.

But in a notice by the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, prosecutors said Buryakov was scheduled to appear in court on Friday morning, using language typically indicative of a guilty plea.

A lawyer for Buryakov did not respond to requests for comment.

Buryakov, who worked at Russian state-owned Vnesheconombank, was arrested in January 2015 as U.S. authorities unveiled charges against him and two other Russians, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy.

Prosecutors have said the trio conspired to gather economic intelligence on behalf of Russia, including information about U.S. sanctions against the country, and to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources.

Prosecutors said Buryakov engaged in covert work on behalf of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, while posing as a banker.

Neither Sporyshev and Podobnyy were arrested, as they enjoyed diplomatic immunity in their respective roles as a Russian trade representative and an attaché to the country’s mission to the United Nations.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr

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