The opioid crisis has captured the public consciousness and now opioid manufacturers and distributors are paying for it. In the first national opioid settlement, the Sackler family who owned Purdue Pharma that made Oxycontin, settled with states, cities and counties for $3 billion up front. A bevy of state attorneys general did not accept the settlement and decided to go after more of the Sacklers’ hidden wealth. New York Attorney General Letitia James reportedly discovered another $1 billion the Sacklers siphoned from Purdue prior to the settlement:
The New York Attorney General’s Office has allegedly uncovered $1 billion in wire transfers by the Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, which could suggest attempts to hide its wealth as it faces litigation over its role in the opioid crisis.
The transfers include some done through Swiss bank accounts, The New York Times reported.
State Attorney General Letitia James (D) reportedly issued subpoenas last month to 33 financial institutions and investment advisers in an attempt to fully discover the family’s wealth.
“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 told the Times 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.”
Court documents filed by James’s office on Friday reportedly show initial findings from one unnamed financial institution. The filing reportedly shows a series of transfers by former Purdue board member Mortimer D.A. Sackler.
A spokesman for Purdue claimed that these transactions occurred a decade ago and were legal and appropriate. The spokesman also intimated this was an attempt for James to grab headlines and publicity, and potentially torpedo an opioid settlement negotiated in good faith with thousands of cities and counties.
If garnering publicity was Ms. James’ goal then she achieved that and some. Fortune previously estimated the family’s net worth at $13 billion. Several lawmakers did not believe the $3 billion payment from the Sacklers was enough. Others felt the need to get while the gettin’ was good; there was a real risk the pay out could be less if the Sacklers filed bankruptcy. That said, an important question remains.