LONDON—Trump Tower lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has been accused of an elaborate new plot to pervert the course of justice.
Veselnitskaya, the pro-Kremlin lawyer who attended the notorious 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, allegedly doctored official documents, according to leaked files viewed by The Daily Beast.
The lawyer, who was tasked with pushing one of President Vladimir Putin’s most cherished propaganda campaigns in the U.S., has already been indicted on obstruction of justice charges by prosecutors for the Southern District of New York.
New documents allege that Veselnitskaya or her team may have employed a similar strategy to tamper with supposedly independent evidence submitted to a court in a related case in Switzerland, where Veselnitskaya’s clients—Denis Katsyv and his company Prevezon—were at the center of a massive tax fraud and money-laundering investigation that was dropped last year.
“Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer of a major suspect in the Swiss case, has been editing the testimony directly obstructing justice in the Swiss criminal case,” claims a document laying out new evidence submitted to the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland, which has been seen by The Daily Beast.
The court filing by Hermitage Capital—who the Russian government blames for the fraud—includes emails obtained by the Dossier Center, an anti-corruption organization based in London, which appear to show that formal evidence from the Russian state in the case against Veselnitskaya’s client was not independently produced, as Moscow had claimed.
The metadata on one crucial Word document handed over by the Prosecutor General’s office in Moscow shows that one of the editors of the report was an account in the name of “Veselnitskaya N.V.”
Metadata on a second Word document—also obtained by the Dossier Center—showed that the file was authored by someone called “Natalia” and then edited by an account called “Mitusova N.A.” Natalia Alexandrovna Mitusova is the name of Veselnitskaya’s step-daughter and a former colleague from when they both worked at the law firm Camerton Consulting.
The second document, seen by The Daily Beast, was the translation of a supposedly independent investigator’s report commissioned by Russian officials, which became a key piece of evidence in the case. Neither Veselnitskaya nor Mitusova responded to a request for comment.
U.S. prosecutors indicted Veselnitskaya in January 2019 over similar allegations. They claim she secretly worked with the Russian Prosecutor General’s office to draft a document which was shared with the U.S. under the mutual legal assistance treaty. The document in question purported to show that an independent Russian investigation had found Veselnitskaya’s client had nothing to do with the money laundering they had been accused of in a New York court.
U.S. prosecutors obtained emails, however, which showed that Veselnitskaya was in touch with one of the officials in the department via email. Examination of the Word documents they shared showed that Veselnitskaya made crucial revisions to the document using the track-changes feature.
The document—with Veselnitskaya’s changes incorporated—was submitted to U.S. prosecutors by the authorities in Moscow, proving just how closely the Trump Tower lawyer was working with the Russian state.
When it emerged that Don Jr., Kushner and Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, had met Veselnitskaya in 2016 to discuss damaging information she might have on Hillary Clinton, it was claimed that the Moscow lawyer had no ties to Putin’s government.
In fact, she was pushing one of his pet projects: the overturning of the Magnitsky Act. The anti-corruption legislation, signed by President Obama in 2012, was named in honor of Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a $230 million fraud before he was jailed by the Russian authorities, mistreated and left to die.
The Magnitsky Act placed sanctions on people accused of covering up that fraud and laundering the proceeds as well as providing a mechanism to sanction corrupt individuals in Russia and beyond. Magnitsky-style legislation has since been passed in the European Union and eight countries around the world, most recently including Australia.
Katsyv and his company Prevezon have been accused by U.S. prosecutors of helping to launder the proceeds of that massive fraud, which they deny.
The Swiss authorities froze assets worth around $8 million related to the alleged fraud a decade ago but they made a decision to return the majority of the money last year despite full knowledge that their investigation had been compromised by Russia.
A consultant to the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office, named in court as Victor K, was sacked after allegations of bribery and “unauthorized clandestine behavior” which included secret meetings with Veselnitskaya. The former anti-corruption policeman was also helicoptered to a bear hunting trip in Russia’s Far East. He took another luxury trip to Russia along with Swiss prosecutor Patrick Lamon and Switzerland’s attorney general Michael Lauber. The three of them were photographed enjoying a boat trip on the Baikal with senior Russian officials.
Despite the utter humiliation of the Swiss justice system, the court still decided to return the Russian money in a ruling in July 2021. New allegations of Russian interference are likely to be submitted as part of an ongoing appeal against that ruling. If the appeal is successful, the funds would not be returned.
It is already alleged in the court papers submitted on January 17, 2022—first reported by Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger—that Veselnitskaya edited the transcript of an interview carried out in Moscow by Victor K and Lamon, which took place at the Prosecutor General’s office. That official transcript was handed to the Swiss prosecutors.
The submission to the court was made by Hermitage Capital, which is owned by U.S.-born businessman Bill Browder. The Russian government has claimed—without foundation—that Browder and Magnitsky were really the men behind the fraud.
Further emails uncovered by Dossier Center now appear to show that someone with the name of Veselnitskaya’s step-daughter may also have been involved in the drafting of another document. This one purported to contain the independent testimony of an expert witness in Russia who argued it was impossible to trace the allegedly laundered funds which found their way into Prevezon accounts.
The supposedly independent testimony of Edward Shakirov was sent for translation by Veselnitskaya’s assistant in October 2015, according to leaked emails. Metadata on the resulting document was edited by someone using the name of Veselnitskaya’s step-daughter, Mitusova.
A copy of that translated testimony was then sent through to the Swiss authorities by Russian officials in December of that year.
This evidence appeared to really strike a chord with the Swiss authorities, since the prosecutor’s closing order mentioned Shakirov’s name 15 times.
A federal judge is expected to rule soon on whether the case should be re-opened and sent back to the prosecutors for further investigation.
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