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In another development, Natalya Veselnitskaya - a Russian lawyer who attended the Trump Tower meeting that is a focus of the special counsel's investigation - was charged with obstructing an unrelated tax-fraud case, federal prosecutors in NY said.

The charges against Veselnitskaya are not related to the Trump Tower meeting, which was hosted on June 9, 2016, by Donald Trump Jr.

The indictment notes that Veselnitskaya "was a Russian national and attorney" who advised "the defendants and claimants" in the case United States v. Prevezon Holdings.

The indictment says that in that case Veselnitskaya submitted to the court purported independent findings from senior Russian prosecutors seeking to divert blame from her client that she had in fact helped draft herself.

James Margolin, a spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office, said Veselnitskaya's criminal case did not originate from a referral by Mueller, noting the allegations relate only to her work for the Russian company and "are unrelated to any other investigation".

It also is the first time USA prosecutors have directly connected Veselnitskaya to the Russian government.

While Veselnitskaya's close ties to the Russian government have been well-documented, Tuesday's indictment describes her as a co-conspirator with Russian prosecutors to obstruct the US investigation.

Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, and top campaign aide Paul Manafort also attended. Magnitsky - the namesake for the US law - died in Russian prison after reportedly investigating tax fraud that affected a company belonging to financier William Browder.

Veselnitskaya, a 43-year-old attorney based in Russian Federation, did not respond to a telephone call and text message from The Associated Press. The U.S. government was seeking to recover millions of dollars' worth of property, much of it tied up in NY real estate, on the ground that it was connected to the scheme.

In the case, prominent Russian businessman Denis P. Katsyv and his real estate firm, Prevezon Holdings, is accused of laundering proceeds from a large-scale tax fraud in Russia through purchasing a NY property.

In May 2017, just a few months after Trump became president, the newly promoted NY district attorney suddenly settled with Prevezon for $6 million, days before the trial opened. Veselnitskaya attended an appeal hearing in the Prevezon case on the same day she attended a meeting in Trump Tower. The investigation in question pertained to suspected money laundering that may have involved a Russian businessman and his investment firm.

Russian prosecutors accuse Magnitsky of participating in the largest tax fraud in Russian history worth $200 million. The indictment suggests Veselnitskaya has close ties with the Kremlin. Additionally, Russian prosecutors helped Veselnitskaya initiate a legal complaint against the Russian government to make it appear that she had been forced to go to great lengths to obtain the document, the indictment alleges.

The indictment, which was dated December 20, concerns a $230 million tax fraud case that has shadowed U.S.


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