AP NEWS

Natalya Veselnitskaya, Russian lawyer from Trump Tower meeting, charged in unrelated case

January 8, 2019

Natalya Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who attended a controversial 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, was charged Tuesday with obstruction of justice in an unrelated money laundering case.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan unsealed charges, originally lodged in December, alleging Ms. Veselnitskaya filed a misleading document in the case against Prevezon Holdings, a real estate business incorporated in Cyprus.

The indictment says Ms. Veselnitskaya, who represented Prevezon, had filed a document purportedly drafted by the Russian government exonerating the company. But it was actually written by Ms. Veselnitskaya and a senior Russian prosecutor, according to the U.S. authorities.

The document “did not contain any indication that any of its content was drafted by non-Russian-government person, including Natalya Veselnitskaya, the defendant, who was acting on behalf of the Prevezon action defendants,” the indictment said.

Ms. Veselnitskaya is not in custody and is unlikely to see a U.S. courtroom.

The U.S. government had accused Prevezon of laundering millions of dollars into New York City real estate.

Specifically, prosecutors said Prevezon laundered more than $230 million in stolen Russian tax funds out of the country and into bank accounts and other assets around the world, including New York luxury apartments.

The case strained relations between the U.S. and Russia, but it was eventually settled in early 2017.

While the case proceeded, Ms. Veselnitskaya, a member of the defense team, allegedly concealed that she helped draft a purportedly independent investigation into Prevezon activities by the Russian government, prosecutors said.

“Fabricating evidence submitting false and deceptive declarations to a federal judge in an attempt to affect the outcome of pending litigation not only undermines the integrity of the judicial process, but it threatens the ability of our courts and our Government to ensure that justice is done,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in announcing the charges.

During the summer of 2016, Ms. Veselnitskaya met with people close to then-candidate Donald Trump at Trump Tower offering damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The president’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort were among the attendees.

Although that meeting is unrelated to the charges against Ms. Veselnitskaya, it remains the subject of investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.