Monday, 25 March, 2019

Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting charged in unrelated case

Natalia Veselnitskay met with Donald Trump Jnr Jared Kushner and other members of the 2016 campaign team- Kommersant Natalia Veselnitskay met with Donald Trump Jnr Jared Kushner and other members of the 2016 campaign team- KommersantMore
Ellis Copeland | 09 January, 2019, 08:06

Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer at the center of a firestorm over a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower who also worked with the Democrat-connected opposition research firm Fusion GPS, was indicted on obstruction of justice charges in NY on Tuesday.

Veselnitskaya was charged by federal prosecutors in NY with seeking to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud investigation into money laundering that involved an influential Russian businessman and his investment firm.

That case - US v. Prevezon Holdings - was the first case brought under the 2012 Magnitsky Act.

Mr Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, and top campaign aide Paul Manafort also attended the June 9, 2016, meeting.

Goldstone initiated the meeting, billing it to Trump Jr.as one to get "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to emails.

While the Prevezon case has been closely watched, Veselnitskaya became a nationally known figure after the revelation in July 2017 the Trump's family and campaign chairman attended the meeting with her and other Russian figures as the general election was heating. She has previously denied working on behalf of the Russian government.

The indictment, though unrelated to Russian election interference, is the first filed against a participant of a Trump Tower meeting at which the president's son expected to receive damaging information about Clinton. He also has scrutinized Trump's role in drafting a misleading public statement about the meeting's content.

Today special counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined to say if Mueller's team was involved in the Veselnitskaya case or if the office had referred the matter to prosecutors in NY.

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Officials have confirmed Ms Veselnitskaya is now wanted by the US Attorney's Office in NY.

The response the USA received from Russia claimed to be the findings "from a Russian government investigation", according to the indictment, and it "purported to exonerate all Russian government personnel" of the fraud from which the alleged Prevezon money laundering stemmed.

The indictment was filed under seal in December and publicly announced Tuesday by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. The son of a former Moscow regional transport minister, he was sole owner of Prevezon Holdings, which was named in the USA indictment alleging that some proceeds from the tax fraud scheme were laundered through the purchase of New York City real estate.

In 2013, Veselnitskaya represented the real estate holdings company Prevezon Holdings, which is based in Cyprus, in a case brought by the Department of Justice.

Veselnitskaya was retained to assist the defendants. As part of that representation, the indictment accuses her of misrepresenting a declaration that she submitted to a federal judge.

But prosecutors allege that she helped draft the supposed independent findings "in secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor".

Katzyv eventually settled the case by paying $6 million without an admission of guilt. A federal judge ordered the firm last February to pay $6 million to the USA government. Fusion compiled reports questioning Browder's claims about Magnitsky and the Prevezon case. Browder's late lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested in 2009 while investigating Prevezon's alleged money laundering scheme. Magnitsky - the namesake for the US law - died in Russian prison after reportedly investigating tax fraud that affected a company belonging to financier William Browder.

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