But if they want to sling mud against her accusation about the $10K, to make her unlikable and decrease her credibility, then it makes more sense that they would say, "Well, she only had to pay because she is a small fish", because this might deflect attention from the illegality of the demand for payment. Their suit would likewise be an unwise strategy (but a frequent s.o.p.) if she had said something truthful about her employer's demand for the $10K, since truth is a defense to a claim of defamation.
No one is saying she was told she had to pay $10K because she was a small fish in a big pond. Many of us have said that the reason she wasn't given prominent roles as a first year corps member was because she was a small fish in a big pond, and it is expected that small fish in big ponds get prominent roles slowly, as a rule. This was in response to her complaints that she was not being given roles fast enough and her action of asking a higher up how to get "prominent" roles; no one is putting words in her mouth that she was impatient.
No one is saying that she wasn't told she had to pay $10/K to get a role -- in some accounts, because she is an American -- or that she wasn't told to get a sponsor to lobby on her behalf if she wanted better roles. There is no proof that this person was making a serious rather than cynical comment, since she doesn't give context, and there is no proof that if this person was serious that this person was right. (Since there are no other Americans other than Hallberg, who presumably doesn't have to pay for roles, the going rate for Americans would be rather new.) Assuming that she would no longer respect this person, had he or she been the one soliciting the funds, her statement is hearsay anyway, since according to her own story, this made her leave in disgust, and she didn't pursue it.
The only way this can be proven one way or another is through an investigation: it is a rare person, let alone network of people, who extorts money and deposits it in an untraceable offshore account, for which there is no paper trail or for whom there is no hint of conspicuous consumption. If those sums were passing hands on a regular basis, there would be a trace of it, even if no one who was a party to the transaction -- which she has not said she was -- was willing to come forward to give detailed accounts of how they participated/were victimized in this illegal extortion.
No one is saying that a man didn't offer to be her sponsor in exchange for sex.
Catherine stated above that the contracts describe taxes withheld. I wonder if this happens in any other country. I also wonder why a Russian employer would withhold U.S. taxes, regardless of any obligation on behalf of the taxpayer.
The US is one of the few countries on the planet that requires its citizens to file tax returns regardless of where they are resident. The other country cannot determine whether the US citizen is liable for taxes: it is up to the citizen to file a return and show the US government that he or she owes no tax. (Up to a certain amount of specific types of income is non-taxable; above that amount and for other types of income, the citizen has to claim a tax credit against taxes paid in the other country[ies], and if the US tax is higher, pay the difference to US Treasury). Other countries withhold taxes from US citizens through tax treaties.
A French citizen, for example, working and resident in Russia does not need to file a return in France for monies earned in Russia, because, by definition, s/he doesn't owe any, and hence, there is no agreement between Russia and France to enforce any withholding on behalf of the French government.