New York State Attorney General Letitia James (D) had some harsh words for the Sackler family after recent revelations of what she alleges to be illegal money transfers.
“As America suffered hundreds of thousands of opioid deaths, millions of addictions, and countless left in financial ruin, the Sacklers profited billions and syphoned [sic] those funds out of their company and into their personal bank accounts and trusts,” she said in a statement provided to Law&Crime on Saturday.
Earlier this week, unsecured creditors who have sued Purdue Pharmaceutical L.P. filed documents they argue show that specific Sackler family members personally directed and oversaw the transfer of billions of dollars out of company bank accounts and into the family members’ personal accounts and trusts.
Those filings also show, the creditors allege, that the Sackler family had direct control over material decisions made by the onetime pharmaceutical giant now widely believed to be the motivating force behind the United States’ two-decade-long opioid epidemic.
“These filings finally display just some of the measures taken by and at the direction of individual members of the Sackler family to illegally shield their finances and protect billions in profit,” the New York Democrat’s statement continued. “The vast financial web this family built was meant to pull wool over our eyes and conceal their assets from both creditors and victims.”
But representatives from the families which controlled Purdue disputed the A.G.’s account. The Sackler family, in a statement to Law&Crime, said it “supported the release of documents by the Court” because they “reaffirm that members of the Sackler family who served on Purdue’s board of directors acted ethically and lawfully in every regard.”
Furthermore, Daniel S. Connolly, an attorney for the Raymond Sackler family, tells Law&Crime that “[t]he fraudulent conveyance arguments are without merit, and the documents now being released demonstrate that.”
Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) recently called out the Big Pharma scions over the same money transfers.
“The Sackler family withdrew $10 billion from Purdue Pharma—the (now bankrupt) company responsible for the opioid crisis—leaving limited funds available for families who lost loved ones,” she tweeted on Thursday. “As a bankruptcy lawyer, I know a fraudulent transfer when I see one.”
The Sackler family withdrew $10 billion from Purdue Pharma—the (now bankrupt) company responsible for the opioid crisis—leaving limited funds available for families who lost loved ones. As a bankruptcy lawyer, I know a fraudulent transfer when I see one, so I called them out 👇 pic.twitter.com/vX76lO0xKN
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) December 17, 2020
Sparks of bi-partisan outrage flew during a hearing where two members of the Sackler family appeared publicly.
“We don’t agree on a lot on this committee in a bipartisan way,” Rep. James Comer (R-Tenn.) told David Sackler and Kathe Sackler. “But I think our opinion of Purdue Pharma, and the actions of your family, we all agree are sickening.”
Other members of the House Oversight Committee outright mocked the Sacklers — reportedly comparing them to Mexican drug cartels and Ponzi scheme operators. Some simply called the pair and their family “evil” as they denied any personal responsibility for the decision-making and drugs alleged to have played an instrumental role in the opioid crisis.
New York State sued the billionaire family in early 2019. The Empire State attorney general also addressed that still-pending action in her Saturday statement.
“As we have argued since we first filed our lawsuit nearly two years ago, we need full transparency into the Sackers’ total assets, as well as justice for opioid victims and our communities,” James said.
[image via via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]
Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to include comments from the Sackler family and from their attorney.
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