Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya charged with obstruction of justice in USA court


James Margolin, a spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office, said Veselnitskaya's criminal case did not originate from a referral by Mueller, noting the allegations relate only to her work for the Russian company and "are unrelated to any other investigation".

Natalia Veselnitskaya became a central figure in the Mueller probe when it was revealed that in June 2016, she met with Donald Trump Jr., after an intermediary indicated she had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

She later concealed the fact from prosecutors and the judge in the NY case and "obstructed the civil proceeding in the Prevezon" case, prosecutors said. Attendees at the meeting later said that she had talked about adoptions, which Russian Federation restricted for Americans as retribution for the Magnitsky Act, and requested that sanctions be lifted. The son of a former Moscow regional transport minister, he was sole owner of Prevezon Holdings, which was named in the US indictment alleging that some proceeds from the tax fraud scheme were laundered through the purchase of New York City real estate.

In response, the office of Russia's prosecutor general Yury Chaika sent a lengthy statement exonerating defendants.

Sergei Magnitsky, who was then working for Hermitage Capital Management, an investment advisory firm established in Moscow by the American-British businessman Bill Browder, later uncovered the $230 million tax fraud scheme.

"As alleged, however, Veselnitskaya concealed from the Court that she, as a member of the defense team in the Prevezon action, had participated in drafting those supposed exculpatory investigative findings in secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor", federal prosecutors said Tuesday. The case was settled in 2017 with Prevezon agreeing to pay $5.9 million in fines.

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Magnitsky was arrested while investigating the fraud case and died in a Russian prison in 2009.

Veselnitskaya has denied acting on behalf of Russian officials when she met with the Trump team, telling Congress she operates "independently of any government bodies".

The law eventually factored into the controversy over the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Browder launched a campaign to have those allegedly involved in his death blacklisted by the U.S. Fusion compiled reports questioning Browder's claims about Magnitsky and the Prevezon case.

During the court battle, Ms Veselnitskaya cited a response the Russian government had given to the U.S. government's request for legal assistance in the case which pointed the finger of blame at others.

Browder went on to push for the passage of two laws: the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which penalized the Russian officials involved in Magnitsky's case; and the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on foreign individuals and entities for human rights abuses.

The case in question is unrelated to the Trump Tower meeting.