The uber-wealthy Sackler family attempted to hide about $1 billion by transferring them to overseas banks in order to avoid paying back the victims of the opioid epidemic that they contributed to, the New York attorney general’s office disclosed Friday.
The attorney general’s discovery comes after the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma reached a tentative settlement with 23 states and thousands of local governments that sued the company over its prominent role in the opioid crisis that has contributed to the addiction and death of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
The terms in the settlement require the Sackler family to relinquish control of Purdue Pharma but admit to no wrongdoing.
In the hunt for the Sackler family’s money for a complete understanding of their considerable fortune, the New York attorney general’s office issued subpoenas to nearly three dozen banks and advisers of the family.
The family sent 137 wire transfers, with some as recently as last year, placing millions of dollars in “New York real estate holdings in the name of shell companies.”
Mortimer D.A. Sackler defended the offshore transfer of millions of dollars from the company to his family, calling them “perfectly legal and appropriate in every respect,” the Associated Press reported.
The attorney general’s office is not buying it.
“Their ownership would have been impossible to detect from publicly available records and without access to financial records,” state prosecutors said in the filing, urging the judge to enforce the subpoenas with which the family has not yet complied.
If the deal between the Sackler family and states and local governments is settled, it will be the first settlement to actually hold a drug company accountable for its role in the opioid epidemic, which has taken more than 200,000 lives through overdoses since 1999, according to federal statistics.