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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

THE CUBAN CONNECTION

"The Cuban government knows what’s going on"

I've said several times in the past that Russia is essentially being run by the Russian mob at this point. Organized crime runs the nation, and its little different than a mafia family, but on a national scale. In a way this is more comforting than the previous tyranny, at least for other nations, because that means they aren't likely to go to war - it hurts business. Mobsters hate to go to war, because it damages their earning power. And if you're only in it for the money, that's a big hindrance on any military use.

But if you think about it, most dictatorships are basically organized crime. They're not busy with small stuff like gambling or prostitution, they don't care about fencing stolen goods, they have bigger schemes in mind. Like Cuba's recent scheme.

A man was arrested in Florida recently. He ran a check cashing business, which is a pretty sketchy business to begin with. He was charged with money laundering, but a bigger crime was dug up behind it all. Mark Tapstcott at the Washington Examiner explains:
The schemes often involve the use of “nominees,” individuals who are paid to be fronts for the actual owners of corporate entities being used in the fraudulent operation. By concealing the identities of true owners, the approach invites its use to funnel tax dollars out of the country.

"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,” the Miami Herald reported Monday.

“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,” the Herald said.

Also earlier this week, federal officials announced the capture of two other individuals who had been involved in multi-million dollar frauds with overseas connections. In one, Irina Shelikhova was arrested Monday at JFK Airport in New York when she tried to re-enter the country from the Ukraine.
The feds estimate that this group funneled more than $70 million in medicare funds to Cuba over the years. They did so through a scheme involving pharmacies and medical centers which submitted medicare claims for medication it supposedly sold, and sent the money to Cuba. They used fifteen different bank accounts to move packets of money smaller than the IRS would take note of.

Cabello was first busted in 2008 but fled to Cuba, and was busted when he tried to slip back into Florida. Initially law enforcement officials stated there was no connection with Cuba but since then the trail has become too obvious to ignore.

This kind of scheme is right up the alley of a mobster, the kind of thing you'd hear discussed on The Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire. Its a clever method of using the way the law is structured to make money illegally, but in this case it was used to funnel US money into Cuba. Cuba's government is more or less infamous for taking loans and money from various governments, banks, and companies and just refusing to pay them back. Yet they still keep getting deals and loans.

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