Russian lawyer in Trump Tower meeting charged with obstruction

File image of Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya speaking during an interview in Moscow in 2016Image copyright
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Lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya is believed to be in Russia

A Russian lawyer who famously attended a meeting with top Trump campaign aides in 2016 has been charged in a separate obstruction of justice case.

Natalya Veselnitskaya is accused of fabricating evidence while working to defend a Russian company in 2013.

Prevezon Holdings was accused of participating in a tax fraud scheme that laundered $230m (£180m).

Officials have confirmed Ms Veselnitskaya is now wanted by the US Attorney’s Office in New York.

An indictment, unsealed on Tuesday, accuses the lawyer of submitting an “intentionally misleading declaration” to the US government in defence of the company, after it requested information from Russia in relation to the case.

“Veselnitskaya’s declaration presented supposed investigative findings by the Russian government – findings purportedly exonerating Veselnitskaya’s clients – under the false pretence that these findings had been independently drafted by the Russian government,” the indictment says.

It alleges the 43-year-old “secretly” worked with a Russian prosecutor to draft the response. She has previously denied working on behalf of the Russian government.

Prevezon Holdings, the company at the centre of the case, was ordered to pay almost $6m ($5m) to the US government in a civil settlement.

Who is Ms Veselnitskaya?

The lawyer first made headlines in the US when it emerged she had met with senior Trump campaign aides, including Mr Trump’s son Donald Trump Jnr, in 2016 to purportedly exchange information about Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

The meeting is considered a key part of the special counsel’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling during the 2016 election.

Tuesday’s charge, which is unrelated to that probe, carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The New York Times reports that Ms Veselnitskaya is thought to currently be in Russia.

The indictment gives no indication of whether the lawyer is expected to return to the US to face the charge.