A photo taken on November 8, 2016 shows Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaking during an interview in Moscow.
Yuri Martyanov | AFP | Getty Images
Natalya Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who attended a controversial meeting at Trump Tower with President Donald Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign leader in 2016, has been charged on criminal charges with obstructing justice in connection with a civil money laundering and confiscation case. .
Veselnitskaya, 43, is accused in an unsealed indictment Tuesday in New York federal court of filing an “intentionally misleading” document related to the money laundering case involving corrupt Russian government officials, prosecutors said.
The Russian national is not in custody and is now a “wanted person”, an FBI official said.
The indictment does not stem from Veselnitskaya’s meeting at Trump Tower, where Trump’s relatives expected her to give them damaging information about Trump’s electoral enemy, the Democratic candidate for election. Presidential Hillary Clinton.
But that meeting is still under investigation by Special Advocate Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible Trump campaign collusion.
And a question Veselnitskaya raised at the Trump Tower meeting is closely related to the ploy that led to the civil case, United States against Prevezon Holdings, in which she is accused of acting criminally as as a lawyer.
In the civil case, Veselnitskaya represented defendants charged with an “elaborate” $ 230 million tax refund fraud program, authorities said.
The federal government filed a lawsuit in 2013 seeking to recover millions of dollars in property, mostly comprised of real estate in New York City, allegedly obtained to launder some of the money defrauded under the refund program. tax.
This scheme was discovered by a Russian accountant named Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested after helping to report the fraud to Russian authorities.
Magnitsky’s death in custody led to the passage of a 2012 US law, the Magnitsky Law, which imposes penalties on Russians suspected of being responsible for his death.
At the Trump Tower meeting, Veselnitskaya urged Trump campaign officials to reverse the Magnitsky Law sanctions.
In the Prevezon case, she submitted a statement that claimed to have been “independently drafted by the Russian government,” and which would have cleared her clients, prosecutors said.
But Veselnitskaya is accused of having hidden from the judge in the case that she had “participated in the drafting of these alleged defense conclusions in secret cooperation with a high-ranking Russian prosecutor”, according to federal prosecutors.
Veselnitskaya attended a court hearing for an appeal of the money laundering case on the same day, June 9, 2016, where she went to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City to sit with people close to Trump.
Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. said he took the meeting with Veselnitskaya after learning she was ready to share the dirt on Clinton.
LOOK: Former Ambassador on US-Russian Relations
Other attendees at the meeting were the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort.
Trump Jr. said Veselnitskaya “said she had information that individuals linked to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton.”
“Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No supporting details or information was provided or even offered. It quickly became apparent that she had no significant information,” Trump said. Jr.
“She then changed the subject and started discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Law. It became clear to me that this was the real agenda from the start and that the allegations of potentially useful information was a pretext for the meeting. “
Read the indictment against Natalya Veselnitskaya: