Connected lawyer involved in Trump Tower meeting charged with obstruction of justice

Lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya during an interview

(President Trump's son), the Trump Organization's Jared Kushner (the president's son in law and Ivanka Trump's husband) and Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

In Tuesday's indictment, the Justice Department said that, in the Prevezon case, Veselnitskaya had submitted ostensibly independent investigative findings that cleared Prevezon and its clients. This report, submitted by Russian Federation under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the United States, was then cited by Veselnitskaya in defending the real estate company Prevezon Holdings Ltd. from claims of money laundering by "Investment Company-1". Prevezon, prosecutors said, laundered the funds into real estate, including by investing in high end commercial property and luxury apartments in Manhattan.

The indictment charges that after the Justice Department asked the Russian government to assist its investigation, the Russian government refused, responding with a letter that purported to exonerate Russian officials and the firm's personnel. Magnitsky was imprisoned and ultimately beaten to death while in custody.

On Tuesday, Veselnitskaya's name appeared in an unsealed indictment for US v. Prevezon Holdings.

The indictment, which is unrelated to Russian election interference and brought by the Manhattan U.S. attorney, illustrates Veselnitskaya's close ties to the Russian government, which she has denied. But that meeting did center on issues related to Veselnitskaya's work on behalf of Prevezon, which is controlled by a Russian businessman named Denis Katsyv.

Last April, Veselnitskaya acknowledged in an interview with NBC News that she was not merely a private lawyer, but a source of information for the Russian prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. A third-party had indicated Veselnitskaya had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

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The meeting caused headaches for the White House and is a topic of inquiry by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election.

The companies that claimed they had been defrauded by Prevezon were owned by Hermitage Capital Management, whose CEO William Browder aided the government's case.

This is not the first time that Veselnitskaya has attracted the attention of USA investigators.

The law eventually factored into the controversy over the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. 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 U.S. sanctions legislation was dubbed the Magnitsky Act.

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.

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

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