Fake scripts from a protest against the Sacklers led by artist Nan Goldin and the activist group P.A.I.N.

New York Attorney General’s Office Claims Sacklers Tried to Conceal Wealth

As the members of the Sackler family with ties to OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma attempt to settle thousands of lawsuits with municipal and state governments over their role in the opioid crisis in the United States, the New York Attorney General’s office said Friday that it discovered that the Sacklers had transferred around $1 billion to Swiss banks and other accounts in an alleged attempt to protect their wealth from the ongoing litigation, the New York Times reports.

“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,” Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, 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.”

James is one of several state attorneys general who are refusing to accept the terms of a tentative settlement agreement between the Sacklers, Purdue, and more than 2,300 municipal and state governments and tribal nations. While the deal is valued at between $10 billion and $12 billion, it stipulates that the Sacklers only have to pay $3 billion of their own personal wealth. It would also involve them giving up control of Purdue, which would essentially be dissolved and reformed as an organization that would provide free drugs for overdose-reversal and addiction treatments.

Last month, James subpoenaed thirty-three financial institutions and services in order to try to gain a fuller picture of the Sackler fortune. Court documents filed by James’s office on Friday revealed that several transfers involved former Purdue board member Mortimer D.A. Sackler. The initial findings also identified shell accounts that were allegedly used to siphon money from Purdue. It is uncertain how the information uncovered will influence the other cases being settled.

As the number of lawsuits against the family swells, the Sacklers and Purdue have consistently denied wrongdoing. In court filings from earlier this month, one of Purdue’s lawyers called the subpoenas “premature, facially defective, overbroad” and said that the company’s legal team plans to challenge them.

[Update: September 16, 9:55 AM]

The New York Times reports that Purdue Pharma filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sunday night. While the move was expected since it was included in the terms of a proposed agreement that would settle thousands of lawsuits against the company, several states that have refused to settle with Purdue, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Virginia, will likely continue to pursue litigation.

Purdue is planning to turn the company into a public benefit trust that will use its profits from the sales of OxyContin and other drugs to fund research and the manufacturing of medications for addiction and overdose treatments. Twenty-four states as well as thousands of municipal plaintiffs have agreed to the deal.

“This unique framework for a comprehensive resolution will dedicate all of the assets and resources of Purdue for the benefit of the American public,” Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’s board of directors, said in a statement. “This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis.”