This is Part One of a six-part series on the death of Sergei Magnitsky, what he uncovered before his death, and how it all relates to the Russian woman who met with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016.
At CNN, reporter Michael Weiss has put out an amazing piece of investigative journalism looking at the strange real estate dealings of that woman: Natalia Veselnitskaya.
According to two different privately run databases, which draw on personal financial and employment information from Russian state records, Veselnitskaya went from a lowly state salary of $1,559 a year to a much more comfortable $53,645, between 1999 and 2003.
But here’s the curious thing: In August 2003, before the lion’s share of that $53,645 was earned, the Russian land registry shows that Veselnitskaya was somehow able to buy two large plots of land in an elite residential community in the Moscow suburbs — properties that cannot have been sold for less than $500,000 apiece at the time, according to two Russian brokers with extensive experience selling in that area.
Veselnitskaya would not respond to multiple interview requests for this story to confirm her employment details and her income.
How a 28-year-old provincial attorney raking in, at most, five figures was able to afford seven figures worth of property is a very Russian mystery, no less intriguing than her extraordinary and unlikely journey to the meeting at the center of the far-reaching investigation into how Moscow might have had a hand in influencing the American presidential election.
Weiss’s article explores these curious deals, and revisits some previously known information about Veselnitskaya, putting it all in a context that you may not have understood before.
I believe most stories about Veselnitskaya have failed to properly explain just how deep her ties are to some of the people accused of perpetrating a $230 million Russian tax fraud, the exposure of which led to the imprisonment, torture, and murder of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. I’d like to try to remedy that journalistic failure with this series of posts, which also constitute a review of the book Red Notice by Bill Browder, which lays out the Sergei Magnitsky story from start to finish.
The summary version is that Veselnitskaya:
- Represented a company accused of receiving proceeds from a $230 million tax fraud scheme uncovered by Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky;
- Has admitted a connection to Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, who is interested in reversing the Magnitsky Act, which freezes the assets of Russian criminals involved in the imprisonment, torture, and murder of Magnitsky;
- Has promoted a movie that spouts the Russian government’s false propaganda that Browder and Magnitsky are the real criminals;
- In lobbying for “Russian adoption” issues, is actually lobbying for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act;
and finally, as revealed by Weiss:
- Oddly purchased expensive properties that were clearly beyond her means, in a manner remarkably similar to the extravagant lifestyles of the Russian police who participated in the $230 million tax fraud and had Magnitsky murdered.
Because this is a blog, and blog readers don’t want to read a 4300-word post in a single setting, I will be setting out this story in six parts.
Tomorrow, in Part Two, I will set out the background of the fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, as set out in Browder’s book Red Notice.