A Russian lawyer who met with senior Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower in 2016 has been charged with obstruction of justice tied to a money laundering case in New York, reports NPR. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced the single criminal count against the attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, on Tuesday. The indictment suggests she has close ties to the Russian government, something she has denied in the context of the special counsel’s Russia investigation. The case stems from legal work Veselnitskaya was doing for Prevezon Holdings.
Prosecutors allege the company laundered millions of dollars of proceeds as part of a complex Russian tax refund scheme that defrauded Russian taxpayers out of more than $200 million. The U.S. government was seeking to recover millions of dollars’ worth of property, much of it tied up in New York real estate, on the ground that it was connected to the scheme. The indictment alleges that while representing Prevezon, Veselnitskaya submitted “false and deceptive declarations” to a federal judge in New York City. Prosecutors allege that she helped draft supposed independent findings “in secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor.” Veselnitskaya has come under scrutiny for her role in a June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. The sit-down at Trump Tower was arranged on the pretext that Veselnitskaya had dirt to offer on Trump’s campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton. Participants say nothing came of their conversation, but the meeting has emerged as an important moment in the broader Russia investigation.