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Dismantling a network of foreign doctors accused of selling sick leave online in Chile

Evidence presented by the Chilean investigative police against doctor fraud, in December 2022.POI

As if it were a beauty product or a piece of clothing, the ad text on social networks: “Get your medical license here. Prices varied by days. It could be $35 for 11 days of work, as much as $80 for a month. Interested parties have been referred to the Chilean Whatsapp number to be contacted later by the Doctor Who I was asking him about the supposed reasons for the sick leave. Once the money has been deposited, the health professional presents him with the document. This is how the Santiago Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office described the ins and outs of a network of foreign doctors, mostly Colombians, who over a three-year period, according to the prosecution, issued licenses without providing real care, causing tax damages estimated at $800 million. The court hearing the case has set an investigation period of 120 days.

In the second week of December, the public prosecution ordered the pretrial detention of seven doctors – four men and three women – for allegedly leading an association accused of issuing and selling ideologically false medical licenses, fraud, defrauding government subsidies and money laundering. At the same hearing in the 14th Court of Guarantee in the Chilean capital, Judge Carlos Muñoz Sepúlveda left the 23 other defendants in the case with precautionary measures such as house arrest and national relations. The defendants’ lawyers maintained their innocence and alleged insufficient evidence.

Snapshot in the number of medical licenses Trigger alerts in the middle of the year in the Chilean health system. Doctors issue an average of 140 licenses annually, but today the number of doctors in pretrial detention has reached 1,600, that is, one every two minutes, according to the police. The State Defense Council – the judicial representative of the Public Health System (Fonasa) – and the Isapres Association (special system) alerted the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the National Prosecutor’s Office to the peak in outbound casualties. After five months of investigation, they found the organization. In the run-up to the hearing, the Public Prosecution Office for Organized Crime and High Complexity of the Eastern Public Prosecutor’s Office and the police raided two medical centers and 32 facilities to arrest 29 accused.

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Elements of the Chilean investigative police.
Elements of the Chilean investigative police. POI

Constanza Ensina, Prosecutor in Cases of High Complexity of Eastern Organized Crime, explained in an 11-hour hearing that the fraud mechanism was carried out through various medical associations that “recruited and hired foreign doctors for the issuance of licenses in large quantities and the subsequent illegal sale thereof, causing economic damage.” to the Alfonsa Foundation that paid for days of unjustified absenteeism from work by workers.The Eastern Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office reported that between August 2021 and July 2022, monetary damages amounted to nearly $ 800 million, which means “25% of the state budget.” Fonasa to Pay Licenses”.

The defendants fall into three categories: Doctors who issued fraudulent licenses. Recruiters, who were responsible for advertising and selling licenses on social networks, and legal representatives, who may or may not be doctors, whose main role was to carry out procedures in Chile so that professionals could practice medicine, as he explained to the newspaper. third Deputy Governor Marcelo Romero, Head of the Economic Crimes Brigade of the Chilean Investigative Police (PDI). The head of the State Council of Defense (CDE), Juan Peribonio, has not ruled out criminal prosecution of CNN for the purchaser of fraudulent medical licenses.

The most famous case in the scandal is that of the two Colombian doctors consisting of Samir Rivaldo and Yesica Sonado. Rivaldo issued 16,039 medical licenses between 2020 and 2022, and his partner another 9,812 between April 2021 and June 2022. The two companies founded to provide health services: Doctor Mitite and Provimedc SPA, respectively. The plaintiff’s lawyers claim that it is impossible to provide real medical care and carry out a diagnosis with those numbers of victims issued. Each patient was supposed to only have a few minutes per consultation. Advocates for the defendants maintain that it is possible through telemedicine and long hours. Between Rivaldo and Sonado, according to the prosecution, they caused tax damages of more than nine million dollars. At the time of their arrest, the couple had packed their bags and a safe with $60,000 in cash and nine million Chilean pesos (just over $10,000).