This is Part Five of a six-part series on the death of Sergei Magnitsky, what he uncovered before his death, and how it all relates to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian woman who met with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016. The springboard for the series of posts is this Michael Weiss article about Veselnitskaya and how she is connected to the Magnitsky case.
In Part One, I introduced the series and Weiss’s conclusions.
In Part Three, I discussed what Magnitsky did when he uncovered the scheme — and the terrible price he paid as a result.
In Part Four, I discussed the reaction of the Russian government to the Magnitsky Act, and why they hate it so much.
Today, in Part Five, I discuss the connections between Natalia Veselnitskaya and the thieves behind the tax fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky.
LAWYER FOR A COMPANY ACCUSED OF STEALING SOME OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE FRAUD DISCOVERED BY MAGNITSKY
In Part Two of this series I discussed the $230 million that was stolen in a tax refund fraud scheme, as uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky. In September 2013, the U.S. Attorney in New York, Preet Bharara, filed a suit alleging that a company based in Cyprus called Prevezon Holdings had received “at least $1,965,444 in proceeds from the $230 million fraud scheme.” Many stories describe this as a money-laundering case, but fail to make clear that the money allegedly laundered was from the same scheme that Magnitsky uncovered with his tax-lawyer detective work. The stolen tax money was then invested in expensive Manhattan apartments, the government alleged.
Guess who the lawyer for Prevezon Holdings was? Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer who met with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner.
The money-laundering case was settled in March 2017 for a $5.9 million dollar penalty, two months after Trump fired Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney who had initially brought the case. Lawyer Veselnitskaya described the settlement as a complete victory for Prevezon Holdings. The Hill:
Ms. Veselnitskaya told one Russian news outlet that the penalty was so light “it seemed almost an apology from the government.”
Some Democrats noted that Prevezon had been represented in an appellate matter by Michael Mukasey, whose son Marc had been a rumored replacement for Bharaha. This further fueled suspicions that the settlement with the SDNY U.S. Attorney was so generous because the Trump administration had ensured that the fix was in, by firing Bharara. However, Browder has said that he approves of the settlement, and it did not require DoJ approval, so any conspiracy theories about Bharara’s firing are likely groundless.
Part of the reason the government settled the case was for the protection of witnesses. In what seems like part of a pattern of unfortunate accidents that happen to people who upset Vladimir Putin, a lawyer for Sergei Magnitsky’s family who was going to testify in the Prevezon case oddly fell from a window before his testimony. Business Insider reported:
The Russian government declined to provide the US government with evidence of Russian money flows that would strengthen the case against Prevezon. Nikolai Gorokhov, a lawyer representing Magnitsky’s family, was able to photograph documents contained in a Russian case file targeting two people involved in the $230 million scheme that traced the money to Russia.
Gorokhov mysteriously fell from a window in Moscow just over a month before he was due to testify in the Prevezon case. But the documents he photographed were admitted into evidence just days before Prevezon agreed to settle.
So we have learned that Natalia Veselnitskaya was not just a lawyer interested in adoption. She was, in fact, the lawyer for folks who allegedly participated in the $230 million tax fraud scheme uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky. And, as discussed in Part One, she acquired real estate holdings that far outstripped her ability to pay for them, based on Weiss’s investigation into her finances.
What else do we know about her?
Tomorrow, in the final part of this series, Part Six, I will discuss Veselnitskaya’s relentless propagandizing against Sergei Magnitsky and Bill Browder, and her lobbying against the Magnitsky Act. By the time you are through reading the series, you will understand that her lobbying concerning “adoptions” goes much deeper than a simple concern for Russian children.