The Sackler family just keeps digging themselves deeper into the mess they're in. Not only are there more than 2,000 lawsuits against their company and family for their role in the opioid crisis – their company not only invented and prescribed OxyContin – they downright pushed it on the public in order to pad their bank accounts, but now, the New York attorney general's office has uncovered about $1 billion in wire transfers by the Sackler family. Many of these wire transfers were run through Swiss bank accounts, pointing to the fact that the family was attempting to protect their wealth as the lawsuits against them racked up.
The Sackler family has long been accused of siphoning money off company profits to fund their own lives. That money, their critics argue, should have been used to pay for the billions of dollars in damage that OxyContin has caused. Letitia James, the New York attorney general issued subpoenas to 33 financial institutions and investment advisors with connections to the Sacklers last month. She was trying to assess the wealth of the Sackler family.
In a statement, Letitia James said: "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. 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.
Celebrity Net Worth estimates that the combined family fortune is worth $13 billion. However, a number of state attorney generals believe the family has much more money hidden away. While there are thousands of lawsuits in state and federal court against Purdue, 26 states have also named the Sacklers individually. Most recently, North Carolina announced that it plans to pursue members of the family in litigation.
The $1 billion in transfers came from one single financial institution that responded to AG James' subpoenas. This is, clearly, only initial findings. In one case, $64 million was transferred by Mortimer D.A. Sackler from a previously unknown trust called Purdue Pharma Trust MDAS through a Swiss bank account in the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the Channel Islands and then to Mortimer Sackler. There were transfers from two other trusts through Swiss banks and back to Sackler as well. Sackler also directed millions to two real estate entities that own a house in Amagansett, Long Island and a townhouse in Manhattan.
Essentially, the Sacklers used secret shell companies to move Purdue money through bank accounts around the world, eventually concealing some of it in real estate investments with previously unknown ties to the Sackler family. A statement was released on behalf of Mortimer Sackler that said: "There is nothing newsworthy about these decade-old transfers, which were perfectly legal and appropriate in every respect."
However, attorneys believe that just these initial findings show that there is a ton more to be learned before a fair resolution to the thousands of lawsuits can be reached.
Recently, a tentative agreement involving around 2,300 cases in federal court and 23 states, stipulated that Purdue Pharma would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This would temporarily stay all litigation against it. It is unclear whether the bankruptcy of Purdue would also protect individual members of the Sackler family.
Until 2018, members of the Sackler family have been on the Purdue board of directors. Some experts feels that the new revelation of the $1 billion in wire transfers could make it harder for members of the Sackler family to protect their personal assets in bankruptcy proceedings.