Russian Lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya Charged With Obstruction

Blanche Robertson
January 9, 2019

Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was at the center of a controversial 2016 Trump Tower meeting, was charged in federal court on Tuesday with obstruction of justice in connection to a civil money laundering and forfeiture case involving a Russian tax refund fraud scheme, first uncovered by the late Sergei Magnitsky.

It saw Donald Trump Jr, the then-candidate Trump's son, Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, and Paul Manafort, then Trump campaign manager, meet with a group of figures with links to Russian Federation.

Donald Trump Jr. has said he agreed to the meeting after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Trump's Democratic opponent in the 2016 election. That report - prepared by a former British intelligence officer - purported to detail collusion between Russian officials and senior members of the Trump campaign in the run up to the 2016 presidential election.

"Veselnitskaya's declaration presented supposed investigative findings by the Russian government - findings purportedly exonerating Veselnitskaya's clients - under the false pretence that these findings had been independently drafted by the Russian government", the indictment says.

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.

The criminal case relates to real estate firm Prevezon Holdings Ltd. and its role in an alleged $230 million tax-fraud scheme that federal officials say was "perpetrated by a criminal organization that included in its ranks corrupt Russian officials".

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He said Mexico would pay for it, although Mexico was always clear it would not, and he has now turned to Congress for the money. Mr Trump deployed about 5,800 troops to the border and described the migrants as an "invasion".

He has also scrutinised Mr Trump's involvement in drafting a misleading public statement about the meeting's content.

During the court battle, Ms Veselnitskaya cited a response the Russian government had given to the United States government's request for legal assistance in the case which pointed the finger of blame at others.

Dershowitz, a Harvard Law professor emeritus, explained that it's rare for a U.S. Attorney's Office to bring an indictment based on a misleading affidavit submitted in a civil case.

As part of her work for Prevezon, Veselnitskaya mounted an aggressive campaign against Bill Browder, a London-based businessman who is the leading force behind the Magnitsky Act. The case was settled in 2017 with Prevezon agreeing to pay $5.9 million in fines. The indictment suggests Veselnitskaya has close ties with the Kremlin.

Russian authorities took a different course and later accused him of having participated in the fraud scheme himself.

She claimed that Trump Jr. had also requested proof that Hillary Clinton's campaign had received money which had avoided taxation, and she had admitted to lacking documentation to prove that. He said that the conversation was focused on the issue of U.S. nationals adopting Russian children and the Magnitsky Act.

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