Russian lawyer in Trump Tower meeting charged with obstruction


According to prosecutors, the Justice Department asked the Russian government to assist its investigation, which it refused to do. Veselnitskaya attended an appeal hearing in the Prevezon case on the same day she attended a meeting in Trump Tower.

Veselnitskaya was the key participant in the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner that was described to Trump Jr as part of a Russian government effort to help his father's campaign.

The indictment accuses Veselnitskaya of secretly collaborating on the drafting of a legal assistance response US prosecutors sought from the Russian government as part of the Prevezon case. The incident sparked the pass the Magnitsky Act, which allowed the sanction officials found to have committed human rights violations in Russian Federation.

Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others at Trump Tower in Manhattan on June 9, 2016, represented Prevezon Holdings in a civil case in which the US attorney's office in Manhattan sought millions of dollars in forfeiture from the company and others.

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.

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks during an interview in Moscow, Russia November 8, 2016.

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

In fact, U.S. prosecutors said, the Russian lawyer participated in drafting the findings secretly together with a Russian prosecutor.

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After Magnitsky discovered the alleged fraud, he was arrested and held for nearly a year in pretrial detention in Moscow, where he eventually died at age 37, the USA indictment filed at the time alleges.

TPM called a number listed for Veselnitskaya at a Russian law firm.

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.

The meeting is being scrutinised by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating whether Mr Trump's campaign team conspired with Russians to influence the 2016 election.

The fraud scheme involved using stolen corporate identities to obtain Russian tax refunds and funneling the illegal proceeds through a network of shell companies. Yet, the USA government pushed back on that characterization.

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

Veselnitskaya met with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson shortly before and after the Trump Tower meeting. A third-party had indicated Veselnitskaya had dirt on Hillary Clinton. His campaign eventually led to the passage of the Magnitsky Act, which resulted in sanctions against Russian officials accused of human rights abuses. Only a few bothered to note that the indictment has to do with a totally unrelated case.