By Myriam Marquez MMarquez@MiamiHerald.com
If the feds’ case sticks, Oscar L. Sanchez will be convicted as a cash-for-Cuba financier of fraudsters, “a capitalist for Cuban banks,” as prosecutors wrote in a court motion, accusing the 46-year-old South Florida man of conspiracy to commit money laundering for a group that funneled $63 million of stolen Medicare payments to Havana banks. You think the Cuban government was in on it?
For the skeptics, I have two words: Robert Vesco.
The fugitive American financier was accused of securities fraud in the 1970s and after trying to buy his own island from the country of Antigua, popped up in Havana in 1982, protected by the communist regime from extradition to the United States. Alas, the commie honeymoon didn’t last once Vesco’s millions seemed to run out. Cuba arrested him in 1996 for “fraud and illicit economic activity . . . acts prejudicial to the economic plans and contracts of the state.” He didn’t last long in prison, dying of lung cancer a few months later.
Sanchez’s acts, federal prosecutors say, have been prejudicial to U.S. taxpayers, by about $31 million, which is the amount the federal government says it tracked from 2005 to 2009 through a complicated web of foreign shell companies Sanchez created using his check-cashing business to funnel the Medicare payments from the United States to Canada, Trinidad and eventually Cuba. The money in at least two accounts deposited in the Trinidad bank in Havana came with instructions to be wired into the Cuban banking system.
Still, prosecutors say there’s no direct evidence linking the Cuban regime and the Castro brothers to the plot.
Well, no kidding. After 53 years of elaborate schemes, murder and mayhem from Angola to Venezuela, Fidel and Raúl have gotten pretty good at it. But the bottom line really isn’t that complicated if the doubters care to seek the truth. Nothing happens in Cuba without the consent of the Castros. Certainly nothing having to do with money, and certainly not millions of dollars in deposits in Cuban government-controlled banks. Was the Cuban government taking a cut?