Oscar Sanchez was arrested last week for a money laundering scheme that sent millions of Medicare dollars to Cuba.
Prosecutors claim that Sanchez helped launder $31 million in fraudulent Medicare payments. His check-cashing business made it possible for Sanchez to launder Medicare checks and wire payments between 2005 and 2009, according to The Miami Herald.
This is the first money laundering scheme out of Miami that directly links Medicare fraud dollars to Cuba. The organization of the scheme was designed to hide the final destination of funds from the authorities.
Sanchez, a Miami resident, allegedly funneled Medicare dollars from crooked providers through a series of international shell companies and into banks in Havana.
Money went from Miami to a bank in Montreal and then into Republic Bank in Trinidad and finally into the Cuban banking system. Providers made phony claims for HIV treatment and medical equipment and then used the laundering system to move them to Havana.
Sanchez is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and if the prosecution can prove the facts alleged in the news, they could have a solid case.
Money laundering involves moving illegally obtained funds into legitimate economic channels. It is used to help hide the fact that the money was gained through criminal activity and it is precisely that deception that makes money laundering illegal. The funds here are alleged to be part of Medicare fraud and were put into banks to fool authorities as the money was transferred to Cuba.
If Sanchez did actually move money like the prosecution claims, he couldn't have done it alone. Any Medicare providers that gave Sanchez funds towards this alleged money laundering scheme could be named as co-conspirators.
Oscar Sanchez is currently being held without bail in Miami for the alleged money laundering scheme, reports the Associated Press. U.S. Magistrate Jonathan Goodman considered Sanchez a flight risk given his numerous trips outside the country in the last decade, including several to Cuba.
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- Miami-Dade Ground Zero for Medicare Fraud and Abuse (FindLaw's Blotter)