Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Russian lawyer from Trump Tower meeting charged in money laundering case

Russian lawyer from Trump Tower meeting charged in money laundering case

Yet despite the fact that little is known for sure about the Trump Tower meeting, it has been cited by Trump's critics as at least one more instance of proof of an improper relationship that existed between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. And it renews questions about the circumstances of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which also was attended by Donald Trump Jr. and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, 43, is charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly submitting a "intentionally misleading declaration" that sought to exonerate her client, a wealthy Russian businessman, in a civil forfeiture case in Manhattan.

Numerous additions and edits from Veselnitskaya made it into the final document, while she didn't disclose to the court that she was an author, the indictment adds.

The indictment notes that Veselnitskaya "was a Russian national and attorney" who advised "the defendants and claimants" in the case United States v. Prevezon Holdings.

Veselnitskaya was also working with another entity involved in the Trump-Russia saga on the Prevezon case - Fusion GPS, a D.C. -based private intelligence firm that gained notoriety for commissioning the Steele dossier.

Prevezon Holdings was accused of participating in a tax fraud scheme that laundered $230m (£180m).

As that case proceeded, Veselnitskaya, a member of the defense team in that matter, allegedly gave a false declaration to the federal court in NY about the Russian government's investigative findings in that case, concealing from the court that she "had participated in drafting those supposed independent investigative findings in secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor".

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Prevezon settled the civil case in 2017 but balked at a negotiated payment.

This is not the first time that Veselnitskaya has attracted the attention of USA investigators.

Veselnitskaya is based in Moscow at the law firm Camerton Consulting.

The allegation that Ms Veselnitskaya covertly worked with a Russian prosecutor in drafting a misleading statement to the court solidified the notion that Ms Veselnitskaya was an agent of the Kremlin, a former federal prosecutor said. When Hermitage employee Sergei Magnitsky reported evidence that corrupt Russian officials had pulled off the theft, some of those same officials arrested Magnitsky and kept him in prison until he died. Yet, the USA government pushed back on that characterization.

The fraud scheme involved using stolen corporate identities to obtain Russian tax refunds and funneling the illegal proceeds through a network of shell companies. A third-party had indicated Veselnitskaya had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Magnitsky's imprisonment and death after he exposed the tax fraud case became a global human rights cause celebre and a challenge to the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Trump has denied having prior knowledge of the meeting.

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