Dismantled a network of foreign doctors accused of selling sick leave over the internet in Chile Code List

Evidence presented by the Chilean Investigative Police against falsifying doctors, in December 2022.POI

As if it were a beauty product or a piece of clothing, the ad on social networks read: “Get your medical license here.” The prices varied according to the days. It could be $35 for 11 days off work, like $80 for a month. Those interested were referred to a Chilean Whatsapp number to later be contacted by a doctor who asked the alleged reasons for the medical permit. Once the money was deposited, the health professional gave him the document. This is how the Santiago Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office described the ins and outs of a network of foreign doctors, mainly Colombians, who for three years, according to the prosecution, issued licenses without providing real care, causing tax damage estimated at almost 800 million dollars. The court handling the case set an investigation period of 120 days.

The second week of December, the Public Ministry ordered preventive detention of seven doctors -four men and three women- for allegedly leading the association accused of issuing and selling ideologically false medical licenses, fraud, fraud of State subsidies and money laundering. In the same hearing held in the 14th Guarantee Court of the Chilean capital, Judge Carlos Muñoz Sepúlveda left the other 23 defendants in the case with precautionary measures such as house arrest and national ties. The defendants’ lawyers defend their innocence and allege the lack of evidence.

A shot in the number of medical licenses triggered the alerts in the middle of the year in the Chilean health system. A doctor issues an average of 140 licenses a year, but the number of doctors in preventive detention today reached 1,600, which translates into one every two minutes, according to the police. The State Defense Council – judicial representative of the public health system (Fonasa) – and the Association of Isapres (private system) alerted the Public Ministry and the National Prosecutor’s Office of the peak in the casualties issued. After five months of investigation, they found the organization. In the run-up to the hearing, the High Complexity and Organized Crime Prosecutor’s Office of the Eastern Prosecutor’s Office and the police raided two medical centers and 32 facilities to arrest the 29 defendants.

Elements of the Chilean Investigative Police.
Elements of the Chilean Investigative Police. POI

Constanza Encina, prosecutor of High Complexity of Eastern Organized Crime, explained in the marathon 11-hour hearing that the fraudulent mechanism was carried out through different medical societies, which “recruited and hired foreign doctors for the massive issuance and subsequent illicit sale of the licenses , causing economic damage to Fonasa, which paid for the days of unjustified absence from work by the workers”. The Eastern Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office reported that between August 2021 and July 2022, the prosecutor damage reaches almost 800 million dollars, which means “25% of the budget of Fonasa to pay licenses”.

The defendants are divided into three groups: the doctors who issued the false licenses; the recruiters, who were in charge of advertising and selling the licenses on social networks, and the legal representatives, who could be doctors or not, whose main role was to carry out the procedures in Chile so that the professionals could practice medicine, as he explained to the newspaper. Third the sub-prefect Marcelo Romero, head of the Economic Crimes Brigade of the Investigative Police of Chile (PDI). The president of the State Defense Council (CDE), Juan Peribonio, did not rule out on CNN criminal prosecution of buyers of false medical licenses.

The most notorious case of the scandal is that of the Colombian doctor couple made up of Samir Rivaldo and Yesica Sonado. Rivaldo issued 16,039 medical licenses between 2020 and 2022, and his partner issued another 9,812 between April 2021 and June 2022. Both established companies to provide health services: Doctor Mitite and Provimedc SPA, respectively. The plaintiff lawyers claim that it is impossible to provide real medical care and make a diagnosis with those volumes of casualties issued. Each supposed patient would have been only a few minutes per consultation. The defenders of the accused maintain that through telemedicine and long working hours it is possible. Between Rivaldo and Sonado, according to the prosecution, they caused tax damage of more than nine million dollars. At the time of their arrest, the couple had their bags packed and a safe with $60,000 in cash and nine million Chilean pesos (a little over $10,000).

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