The Russian lawyer who attended a controversial 2016 meeting at Trump Tower was charged with obstruction of justice in an unrelated money-laundering case, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan lodged the charges against Natalya Veselnitskaya in December, saying she had filed a misleading document in the government’s case against Prevezon Holdings, a Cyprus-based real estate firm, and its Russian owner.
Ms. Veselnitskaya, a member of Prevezon’s defense team, concealed from the court that she and a senior Russian prosecutor helped draft a report that was presented to the court as “independent investigative findings” and appeared to clear Prevezon of any wrongdoing.
Her false claim caused the court to rule in her favor, denying the government’s motion for partial summary judgment. The report was referenced in multiple court filings by Prevezon as the case proceeded, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The document “did not contain any indication that any of its content was drafted by [a] 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. It is unlikely she will see a U.S. courtroom because the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Russia. She told CNN by phone Tuesday that she would “defend her professional honor,” but declined to say if she would come to the U.S. to stand trial.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement that Ms. Veselnitskaya fabricated evidence and her action “not only undermines the integrity of the judicial process, but threatens the ability of our courts and our government to ensure that justice is done.”
The U.S. government accused Prevezon of laundering more than $230 million in stolen Russian tax funds out of the country into bank accounts and other assets around the world, including New York luxury apartments. Although the case was settled in 2017, it strained relations between the United States and Russia.
Ms. Veselnitskaya became internationally known because of her June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with people close to then-candidate Donald Trump. The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort were among those who attended the meeting.
The Trump campaign officials expected her to give them dirt about Mr. Trump’s election rival, Hillary Clinton. Instead, according to Donald Trump Jr., she discussed the repeal of the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that sanctions Russians accused of human rights violations.
The meeting remains a subject of investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.
The Trump Tower meeting does not appear to be connected to the charges against Ms. Veselnitskaya.
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