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, reports the Miami Herald. 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. Prosecutors say dozens of crooked Medicare providers took part, opening 15 bank accounts in Canada and Trinidad to move the money from the United States, court records state. In a number of cases, money was transferred from the Royal Bank of Canada in Montreal to a Havana branch of the Republic Bank in Trinidad. They had one motive: to hide millions streaming in from Medicare.