Sacklers Accused Of Shielding One Billion Dollars As Hedge Against Litigation – NPR

Members of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and Truth Pharm staged a protest on Thursday outside Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn., over its recent controversial opioid settlement.

Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images


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Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Members of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and Truth Pharm staged a protest on Thursday outside Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn., over its recent controversial opioid settlement.

Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

New York state Attorney General Letitia James says the family that owns Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid Oxycontin, used Swiss bank accounts to transfer $1 billion from the company to itself.

The allegation, which came in court documents filed late Friday, indicates that the Sackler family is trying to keep its wealth free from potential liability in other court cases involving Purdue Pharma’s role in the opioid crisis.

“While the Sacklers continue to lowball victims and skirt a responsible settlement, we refuse to allow the family to misuse the courts in an effort to shield their financial misconduct,” James said in a statement.

“Records from one financial institution alone have shown approximately $1 billion in wire transfers between the Sacklers, entities they control, and different financial institutions, including those that have funneled funds into Swiss bank accounts,” she added.

The filing comes after nearly two dozen states and 2,300 local governments reached a tentative settlement with Purdue Pharma to resolve thousands of lawsuits alleging that the company helped fuel the opioid crisis. New York and others states rejected the settlement.

James has been critical of the settlement, calling the deal “an insult.”

The court filing highlights the activities of Mortimer D.A. Sackler, a former Purdue board member. It alleges that Sackler transferred millions of dollars from trust companies, at least one of which was previously unknown, through Swiss bank accounts to himself as early as 2009. Some of the funds were directed to real estate companies that owned Sackler family homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons.

The New York attorney general’s office believes there is much more to be learned about the family’s holdings and that information is central to arriving at a just settlement. Prosecutors want the court to enforce subpoenas of companies, banks and advisers tied to Purdue and the Sacklers.

Forbes estimates the Sackler family fortune at $13 billion, making the Sacklers the 19th wealthiest family in the nation.

Purdue Pharma media representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company and the Sacklers are seeking to derail the court challenges against them.

“Purdue has already produced more than 51 million pages of documents to the state, including voluminous financial and business information,” a lawyer representing Purdue said in a filing in the New York case earlier this month, as cited by The New York Times, arguing that the subpoenas are “premature.”

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