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NY finds US$1b in hidden transfers by family behind OxyContin

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The New York state attorney general's office said Friday that it had tracked about US$1 billion in wire transfers by the Sackler family, including through Swiss bank accounts, suggesting that the family tried to shield wealth as it faced a raft of litigation over its role in the opioid crisis.

[NEW YORK] The New York state attorney general's office said Friday that it had tracked about US$1 billion in wire transfers by the Sackler family, including through Swiss bank accounts, suggesting that the family tried to shield wealth as it faced a raft of litigation over its role in the opioid crisis.

Earlier this week, thousands of municipal governments and nearly two dozen states tentatively reached a settlement with the Sackler family and the company it owns, Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin. It was unclear if the new disclosure would change the thinking of any of the parties that agreed to the settlement.

The attorneys general of a majority of states, including New York and Massachusetts, have already balked at the proposed deal, contending that the Sackler family has siphoned off company profits that should be used to pay for the billions of dollars in damage caused by opioids.

The wire transfers are part of a lawsuit against Purdue and individual Sacklers in New York. Letitia James, the state's attorney general, had issued subpoenas last month to 33 financial institutions and investment advisers with ties to the Sacklers in an effort to trace the full measure of the family's wealth.

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"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," Ms James said in a statement.

"Records from one financial institution alone have shown approximately US$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.

Forbes has estimated the family fortune is worth US$13 billion, but many state attorneys general believe the family has more hidden away.

The Sacklers and Purdue have contested the legal actions, and the company is seeking to quash the subpoenas. Representatives of the company and some of the family members had no immediate comment Friday afternoon.

A statement from a firm representing Mortimer DA Sackler, a former Purdue board member, said: "This is a cynical attempt by a hostile AG's office to generate defamatory headlines to try to torpedo a mutually beneficial settlement that is supported by so many other states and would result in billions of dollars going to communities and individuals across the country that need help."

NYTIMES