Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya gained attention for her June 2016 election campaign meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. Since the meeting in Trump Tower—when she promised damaging information about Hilary Clinton—many questions have been raised about who she is and how she quickly acquired her wealth.
In an attempt to understand how the attorney was able to afford millions of dollars of property on a five-figure salary, CNN’s National Security Analyst Michael Weiss investigated where she got all of her money.
Veselnitskaya, 42, didn’t respond to interview attempts from Weiss who hoped to confirm her employment details and income, he reports. But according to two separate Russian financial databases (Larix and Cronos), Weiss found that she went from a salary of $1,559 a year in 1993 to earning $53,645 in 2003. But, what sparked the most curiosity was how she bought pricey properties situated a short distance from Vladimir Putin's presidential residence.
“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,” Weiss reports.
A majority of her 2003 income was made after she bought the property in DSK Riita estimated to be worth $1 million. Three years later, she built a home on the land, which can be seen in a 2015 promotional video for another home in the neighborhood.
"The cost of developing completed houses in that community in 2006 were in the ballpark of $10 to $12 million," Anya Levitov, a Russian broker told Weiss.
If Kremlin-connected, Veselnitskaya’s story would not be unusual, as it’s been known for other well-connected figures to have net-worths far above their incomes. “Many have what's colloquially known as a krysha, or 'roof' (as in protection) for whom they do favors in return for gifts,” Weiss notes.
Aside from the mystery of her wealth, other questions about Veselnitskaya’s June 2016 meeting remain unanswered. Last Thursday, Trump, Jr. told the Senate he met with her and three associates linked to Russia in order to assess Clinton’s “fitness” for office.
“To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out,” Trump Jr. said in a statement about the meeting, the Los Angeles Times reports.