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Russian lawyer in Trump Tower meeting charged in Kremlin-linked obstruction case

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Lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya during an interview

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskayahas been charged with obstruction of justice in a money laundering investigation separate from Robert Mueller's probe.

In the obstruction of justice case, Veselnitskaya acted as the lawyer for Denis Katsyv, a key figure in the earlier USA indictment.

The investigation had to do with a real estate firm, Prevezon Holdings, and its role in an alleged $230 million dollar tax fraud scheme that Melendez said was "perpetrated by a criminal organization that included in its ranks corrupt Russian officials". Prosecutors also say she obstructed civil proceedings by lying about her cooperation with Russian prosecutors as they came up with a response to the investigation's findings.

You can read the indictment for yourself here.

Vesenitskaya is known to have close ties to Yury Chaika, Russia's top prosecutor and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Veselnitskaya, a 43-year-old attorney based in Russian Federation, did not respond to a telephone call and text message from The Associated Press.

Donald Trump, Jr. met with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York City in 2016. Browder has championed sanctions against Russia, accusing its officials of collaborating in the imprisonment that led to the death of his Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

In 2013, USA prosecutors brought a civil lawsuit against the company that sought to recover millions of dollars worth of NY real estate and other property on the grounds that it was tainted by money laundering.

According to the indictment in United States of America v. Natalia Veselnitskaya, "the United States government sought to recover several million dollars' worth of property, mainly NY real estate, on the ground that this property was involved in laundering a portion of the proceeds of a Russian tax fraud scheme".

The case is unrelated to the now-infamous 2016 meeting, in which Donald Trump Jr., his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Magnitsky - the namesake for the USA law - died in Russian prison after reportedly investigating tax fraud that affected a company belonging to financier William Browder. Trump's team of aides in the meeting appeared to be baffled by her focus on this, instead of the promised dirt on Clinton, according to testimony released by the Senate Judiciary Committee about the meeting. It also accused Magnitsky himself of committing the Russian Treasury Fraud, when as the feds outline he reported it.

Prevezon settled the civil case in 2017 but balked at a negotiated payment. Yet, the US government pushed back on that characterization.

Browder went on to push for the passage of two laws: the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which penalized the Russian officials involved in Magnitsky's case; and the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on foreign individuals and entities for human rights abuses.

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