Russian lawyer who met Trump Jr charged in unrelated case

Clay Curtis
January 9, 2019

A Russian lawyer who attended a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower under scrutiny in the U.S. special counsel's Russia probe was charged with obstruction of justice in a money laundering case, the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan said on Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors in NY said they were not aware of any defense attorney retained by Veselnitskaya, and ABC News requests for comment from her Russian office were not immediately returned.

The meeting included campaign chair Paul Manafort, Trump's son Donald Jr, and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Donald Trump Jr, the President's son, has said he agreed to the meeting after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump's Democratic opponent.

Veselnitskaya helped represent Prevezon in the case, in which the company was alleged to have laundered $14 million in proceeds of the Moscow tax refund scam through NY real estate.

"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, United States 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.

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A Phoenix police spokesman said that "the matter is now under investigation" but declined to give any further details of the case. In 2013, an investigation found that a staff member made "inappropriate, sexual statements" about four clients.

The U.S. attorney's office settled the case against Prevezon previous year for $5.8 million, a small fraction of the monies originally alleged to have been involved.

Prevezon Holdings, the company at the centre of the case, was ordered to pay nearly $6m ($5m) to the U.S. government in a civil settlement.

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

The scheme was exposed by crusading lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested by Russian authorities and died in prison in 2009 after he was allegedly denied adequate care for severe health conditions. The case was settled in 2017 with Prevezon agreeing to pay $5.9 million in fines. In a written questionnaire submitted to a Senate committee in 2017, she claimed that Trump Jr. asked her for evidence of illegal conduct by the Clinton Foundation, but Veselnitskaya said in the questionnaire that she had no such evidence.

In the indictment revealed on Tuesday, Ms Veselnitskaya's involvement in a separate incident - her work defending a company caught up in a money laundering scandal - was outlined in detail.

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

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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