More than the White House was at stake when Donald Trump Jr. met at Trump Tower last summer with a top lawyer for Moscow’s regional government.
The attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had a client with another pressing matter -- a U.S. criminal investigation into possible Russian money laundering.
Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump Jr. after an email promised him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, has been depicted as an activist working to repeal human-rights sanctions against Russia.
But when she stepped into Trump Tower, Veselnitskaya was also representing a client ensnared in a long-running U.S. investigation into an alleged web of Russian money-laundering. That criminal inquiry, opened by federal prosecutors in New York in 2013 and previously unreported, is still active, according to people familiar with the probe. There was no mention of an ongoing criminal inquiry when the U.S. settled a related civil lawsuit against Veselnitskaya’s client in May.
The outline of the criminal investigation, stretching from Switzerland to Cyprus, is laid out deep within the 734 filings in the civil case. Several countries have supplied documents to the U.S., as have Deutsche Bank AG, Citigroup Inc. and other global banks that aren’t targets. U.S. prosecutors in the case are seeking to track parts of more than $200 million they say left Russia after a massive fraud, and to identify who was involved in the scheme.
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