Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya charged with obstruction of justice in United States court

Veselnitskaya speaks to a journalist in Moscow Nov. 8 2016

That treasury theft also victimized the Hermitage hedge fund run by investor Bill Browder.

The perpetrators plowed some of the monies from the tax fraud scheme into NY real estate - funds the US government sought to recover. In the lawsuits, members of a criminal organization posed as both plaintiffs and defendants in the cases, admitting wrongdoing so they could win large money judgments which could then be declared as losses in order to collect large Russian tax refunds, USA authorities concluded.

Veselnitskaya has previously denied acting on behalf of Russian officials when she met with the Trump team, telling Congress she operates "independently of any government bodies". In the meeting, Veselnitskaya lobbied against the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that placed sanctions against Russian human rights abusers.

"Natalia Veselnitskaya was an employee of Pyotr Katsyv, former Transport Minister and vice governor of Moscow Oblast", Olga Lautman, an investigative reporter who spent years researching the Russian mafia, told Newsweek.

Those involved made about $230 million in tax refunds, prosecutors said, and filtered the money through shell companies and eventually into Prevezon, a Cyprus-based real estate corporation.

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.




Tuesday's indictment describes in vivid detail the extent of Veselnitskaya's involvement in drafting a response from the Russian prosecutor's office to federal prosecutors in the Southern District of NY investigating the Prevezon case.

Natalia Veselnitskaya has been charged by prosecutors in NY of attempting to thwart a Justice Department investigation into money laundering that involved a powerful Russian businessman and his investment firm. But they refused to provide the requested records. 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. In April 2018, however - just over a year after the Prevezon case was settled and closed - USA government propaganda outlet RFE/RL reported the existence of the emails, sourcing them to Dossier, an outfit run by Browder's fellow ex-oligarch and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The scheme was uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian legal adviser allegedly beaten to death in prison in 2009 after accusing Kremlin officials of tax fraud.

A lawyer at BakerHostetler, which represented Prevezon at the time of the November 2015 filing, declined to comment.

The first email in a chain released by Donald Trump Jr. also references a Russian prosecutor.

Veselnitskaya has in the past sought to dispute her characterization as a "government attorney", noting that she worked only in the prosecutor's office of the province that surrounds but does not include Moscow.

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