The New York attorney general’s office filed court documents Friday accusing members of the Sackler family, which owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, of secretly transferring around a billion dollars from the company to themselves while they fight a lawsuit over the company’s role in the U.S. opioid epidemic.
The filing comes a few days after reports emerged that the company had tentatively reached a settlement in the lawsuit brought forth by nearly two dozen state attorneys general as well as more than 2,000 cities and counties, all accusing the drugmaker of fueling the country’s sweeping opioid crisis.
However, New York is among several states that don’t think the settlement ― rumored to be worth $10 billion to $12 billion ― is fair. In Friday’s filing, the state claims members of the family have been siphoning off millions to their own bank accounts to lessen what the company could be required to pay out in a settlement.
“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,” New York Attorney General Letitia James 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,” she continued.
In Friday’s filing, James’ office asks the courts to subpoena documents from financial institutions that the Sackler family has done business with.
“It is elementary, however, that how the Sacklers moved and tried to hide their money will be key evidence of the liability of all of the participants,” the filing read.
The Sackler family has contested the thousands of legal actions against their company and continually denied any culpability for the opioid crisis, which claims more than 130 lives every day in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Friday’s development comes just over a month before the massive case’s federal trial is scheduled to begin in mid-October in Cleveland, Ohio.