Russian lawyer in Trump Tower meeting charged with obstruction

Veselnitskaya speaks to a journalist in Moscow Nov. 8 2016

Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks to a journalist in Moscow Nov. 8 2016

Veselnitskaya has always maintained that her reason for pursuing the Trump Tower meeting with Trump campaign officials was to discuss the adoption issue.

A Russian lawyer who President Donald Trump's son believed was peddling dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign worked with a Russian government official to deceive an American court in an unrelated civil case, federal prosecutors in NY said today.

She was advising Prevezon Holdings Ltd, an investment firm accused of using NY real estate to launder a portion of the profits from an elaborate $200 million Russian tax fraud scheme.

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

The Magnitsky act continues to be a major irritant to the Russian government, and the lifting of sanctions appears to have been one of her primary objectives during the Trump Tower meeting, which was initially arranged after the dangling of potential dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Veselnitskaya allegedly filed a fraudulent statement in a closely watched case that's technically separate from the ongoing probe into Russia's 2016 election meddling, but which involves some of the same players.

According to prosecutors, the Justice Department asked the Russian government to assist its investigation, which it refused to do.

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

The indictment says Veselnitskaya claimed that the material she submitted to the court was an independent finding when in fact the document was an "intentionally misleading declaration" that she had secretly drafted with a senior Russian government prosecutor, who is not named in court papers.

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.

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. 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. 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.

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

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.

Katzyv eventually settled the case by paying $6 million without an admission of guilt.

Veselnitskaya worked closely with Fusion GPS to investigate Browder. Yet, the USA government pushed back on that characterization. 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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