Remarks as Prepared for ADIC George Venizelos on Charges Against 49 Russian Diplomats and Their Spouses
|FBI New York December 05, 2013|
The following remarks were prepared for delivery by FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos in connection with charges filed against 49 Russian diplomats and their spouses.
Good afternoon. Today, we rely on our partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to bring to justice those who knowingly conspire to commit health care fraud, steal government funds, and make false statements relating to health care.
For the past year-and-a-half, the FBI investigation has revealed the systematic, fraudulent submission of falsified applications for Medicaid benefits by 49 current and former Russian diplomats and their spouses between 2004 and 2013. These included claims associated with medical costs for pregnancy, child birth, and doctor visits for the young children of Russian diplomats and their spouses. As a result of their falsified applications, the defendants obtained Medicaid benefits they were not entitled to.
Diplomats who serve in the United States are representatives of their respective nations. Our relationship with foreign diplomats and diplomatic establishments is essential for cooperation on many issues. We value that daily cooperation with our foreign partners.
Some Russian officials based in New York allowed their employees to defraud the American taxpayer and take advantage of a health care program not designed for them. Each diplomat listed in the complaint submitted an employer verification form from the Russian government misstating their income in an effort to qualify for benefits. The New York State Medicaid program has paid approximately 1.5 million dollars on fraudulent claims submitted by these defendants and dozens of co-conspirators not named as defendants.
Our investigation revealed that the defendants spent tens of thousands of dollars on luxury watches, jewelry, electronics, and vacations. The amount of money spent on these luxury items was inconsistent with the grossly underreported incomes claimed by the defendants on their Medicaid applications. The defendants earned considerably more than they led the Medicaid system to believe.
We all feel the impact of health care fraud, which leads to higher health care costs and makes it more difficult for those who truly need assistance to obtain coverage. The defendants selfishly took advantage of an American health care system designed to help those less fortunate. The unsealing of the complaint today highlights the criminal activities of these defendants and reminds the public that health care fraud remains an ongoing problem in our country. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to preventing and prosecuting health care fraud at all levels.
I would like to thank United States Attorney Preet Bharara and the dedicated prosecutors at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for their joint efforts in this investigation and prosecution. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of our New York Counterintelligence Division and the commitment of the FBI Counterintelligence case agents who worked tirelessly to bring this case to fruition. Thank you.
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