Russian lawyer from Trump Tower meeting charged in money laundering case

Cheryl Sanders
January 9, 2019

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The charges claim that she made misleading statements to the court when representing Prevezon Holdings, a Cyprus-based real estate firm, in a case in NY.

Instead, according to the government, Veselnitskaya helped draft the report "in secret coordination" with a senior Russian prosecutor. The incident sparked the pass the Magnitsky Act, which allowed the sanction officials found to have committed human rights violations in Russian Federation.

In response, the office of Russia's prosecutor general Yury Chaika sent a lengthy statement exonerating defendants. The investigation in question pertained to suspected money laundering that may have involved a Russian businessman and his investment firm.

While it is unclear what Veselnitskaya said to Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort during the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, a report from 2017 suggests that at least one of the subjects broached was the Magnitsky law that imposes harsh sanctions against Russian Federation for its human rights violations. That same information was included in a memo Veselnitskaya took into her meeting with Trump Jr.

Last year, the USA attorney's office settled its civil case against Prevezon for more than $5.8 million.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, 43, was among a group of Russians who met with top Trump campaign figures in June 2016 after an intermediary suggested they had incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.

Veselnitskaya is based in Moscow at the law firm Camerton Consulting.

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Moscow, in April 2018.

It also is the first time USA prosecutors have directly connected Veselnitskaya to the Russian government.

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

In 2007 and 2008, Magnitsky uncovered an alleged vast corruption scheme involving about $230 million, according to a federal indictment by the U.S. Southern District of NY in 2013. That treasury theft also victimized the Hermitage hedge fund run by investor Bill Browder.

This is not the first time that Veselnitskaya has attracted the attention of US investigators. Congress passed the Magnitsky Law in 2012 to target those allegedly involved in his arrest and death with financial sanctions.

Veselnitskaya, a 43-year-old attorney based in Russian Federation, did not respond to a telephone call and text message from The Associated Press. Browder has been convicted of tax fraud in Russian Federation, but has avoided extradition by campaigning in the West to brand Moscow a human rights violator over the death of his accountant, Sergey Magnitsky - after whom the far-reaching USA sanctions legislation was dubbed the Magnitsky Act.

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.

That company was Hermitage Capital, whose owner Bill Browder gave up his U.S. citizenship in 1998 to avoid paying taxes on billions he was making on shadowy business dealings in Russian Federation.

Prevezon settled the civil case in 2017 but balked at a negotiated payment.

Magnitsky's imprisonment and death after he exposed the tax fraud case became a global human rights cause celebre and a challenge to the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Other reports by iNewsToday