Russian lawyer Nataylya Veselnitskaya charged with obstruction | News Coverage from USA

Russian lawyer Nataylya Veselnitskaya charged with obstruction

WASHINGTON – The Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign was charged with obstruction in an unrelated money laundering investigation, federal prosecutors alleged Tuesday.

The case against Natalya Veselnitskaya, who participated in the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and others, was brought by federal prosecutors in New York – not Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

The indictment charges that Veselnitskaya corruptly influenced a New York federal court, using a false declaration in a civil case involving an influential Russian investment firm that she was representing. The declaration, according to court documents, did not disclose that she secretly helped draft a related investigative report submitted by a Russian prosecutor.

The charges were filed Dec. 20 and unsealed Tuesday.

The case stemmed from a $200 million Russian tax-fraud case, involving Russian investment firm Prevezon Holdings, in which the U.S. government sought to recover millions in New York real estate involved in the scheme that ran 2013 to 2018. The fraud allegations involved stealing corporate identities of three companies and claiming tax refunds for them.

In March 2014, the U.S. government requested bank records from Russia under a mutual legal-assistance treaty to show the flow of fraudulent funds. Veselnitskaya is charged with helping draft and write the 14-page reply from Russia to exonerate Prevezon.

Veselnitskaya’s emails to a Russian prosecutor on July 31 and Aug. 1, 2014, attached drafts of the document with changes and comments, according to the indictment.

“The Russian response to the United States request stated that the Russian crime alleged in the United States’ complaint did not occur and that the story in the complaint was an attempt by (a CEO) to ‘discredit the law enforcement and judicial authorities of Russia investigating his criminal activities,’” Veselnitskaya said, according to the indictment.

Because of her representations, the U.S. court denied a government motion for partial summary judgment in the case Nov. 30, 2015.

Beyond the criminal charges unsealed Tuesday, the case highlighted Veselnitskaya’s close connections to the Russian government, which has only raised suspicions around her 2016 involvement in the Trump Tower meeting.

 

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