Miami federal prosecutors say they uncovered an international money-laundering operation that moved millions in stolen Medicare dollars to Havana’s banks
By Michael Sallah msallah@MiamiHerald.com
In an unprecedented case, federal prosecutors have charged a Miami man with engaging in a massive money-laundering operation that moved millions stolen from the federal Medicare program into Cuban banks.
Prosecutors say Oscar Sanchez, 46, was a key leader in a group that funneled $31 million in Medicare dollars into banks in Havana — the first such case that directly traces money fleeced from the beleaguered program into the Cuban banking system.
Most of the money moved through an intricate web of foreign shell companies before ending up in Cuba, to avoid being detected in the United States, said investigators.
“We’re obviously dealing with a very sophisticated network,” said Ron Davidson, an assistant U.S. attorney, during a court hearing on Monday.
The federal investigation marks the first time prosecutors have brought a cash-for-Cuba case in the ongoing battle against Medicare fraud in South Florida, which leads the nation in dollars fleeced from taxpayers.
Despite arguments from Sanchez’s lawyer on Monday that his client was not a flight risk and has family ties to Miami, U.S. Magistrate Jonathan Goodman ordered the defendant be held without bail.
Editor’s Note: See Medicare Fraud Pays for Cuban Spy Activities Against U.S. — http://www.inatoday.com/cubamedfraud8242011.htm