MOSCOW, December 14 (RIA Novosti) – At least some of the Russian diplomats recently accused by the US authorities of fraudulently using American medical services to which they were not entitled did have the right to use them, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.
“First, the statement that they all did not have these rights because they were foreigners is not true. In the US, there are laws in some states granting use of Medicaid to foreigners. Secondly, the statement that the earnings received by these Russian diplomats did not put them in a category of people able to receive Medicaid is not completely true,” he said.
Forty-nine current or former Russian diplomats and their spouses stationed in New York City were charged earlier this month in the alleged defrauding of $1.5 million from a government health care program aimed at helping the poor, US federal prosecutors said on December 5.
During the period of the purported fraud scheme from 2004 to August 2013, the defendants falsely underreported their income or fraudulently claimed that their children were US citizens to obtain Medicaid benefits associated with costs for pregnancy, birth and young children, US prosecutors allege.
Lavrov said the Russian authorities had checked the salaries paid to its staff and “at minimum, a few of them at least, at the time they sought this assistance, were on salaries that allowed them to request such help from the American fund.”
Lavrov also questioned the timing of the American charges against the Russian diplomats.
“This was around ten years ago,” he said. “The Americans started to look at this issue from around 2004. This, however, is also a separate aspect of this situation which characterizes it,” he said.