For the past six months, New York prosecutors and the FBI have collected evidence concerning health insurance fraud, perpetrated by Russian diplomats. They are now confident that they have enough evidence to mount a solid case. According to Prosecutor Preet Bharara, the diplomats falsified income statements and other information regarding marital status and nationality to gain access to cheaper health insurance.
The prosecutors provided the media with the names of 49 Russian diplomats and their family members who were involved in the scandal. It regards members such as the Consulate General and the Russian Delegate to the UN, as well as other members of the diplomatic community who have since left the United States. Of the 49 diplomats accused, only 11 remain in the United States.
The fraudulent scheme has been in place since 2004 and has cost the US treasury approximately half a million dollars. Officials from Moscow stated that any suspicion of illegal activity buy Russian diplomats should have been voiced to the Russian Government through proper diplomatic channels before going public. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, says that the case has no basis in reality and that it is nothing more than a Russia-phobic PR stunt to please the American public. He went on to say that, the illegal surveillance of diplomats who held official diplomatic passports was in direct violation of the international laws and that they reject any accusations that were made against their diplomats.
One of the controversial issues surrounding the case is that the 11 members of the diplomatic community who remain in the United States, all possess diplomatic immunity and as a result of this, they cannot be arrested by American officials or prosecuted in an American Court of Law. The prosecutors on the case noted that they would request that the immunity be revoked, lest the accused parties risk being expulsed from the United States.