Sacklers funneled money from Purdue through Swiss banks, New York alleges

A bottle of OxyContin pills — prescription opioid painkillers made by Purdue Pharma.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

The family that owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma used Swiss bank accounts to conceal the transfer of millions of dollars from the company to themselves, New York state’s attorney general contends in court papers filed Friday.

New York — asking a judge to enforce subpoenas of companies; of banks; and of advisors to Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family — said it has already documented $1 billion in transfers between those parties.

Those transactions include millions of dollars shifted from a Purdue parent company to former board member Mortimer D.A. Sackler, prosecutors say in the papers. They allege that Sackler then redirected substantial amounts to shell companies that own family homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons.

Representatives for the branch of the family that includes Mortimer D.A. Sackler did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The filing, made in a New York court, follows announcements this week that New York and other states decided to reject a tentative settlement with Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue. The states argued the settlement would not do enough to make amends for the company’s and family’s alleged roles in flooding U.S. communities with prescription painkillers. The opioid crisis has contributed to the deaths of thousands of Americans.


Purdue Pharma discussed diverting online readers away from L.A. Times stories about its marketing of OxyContin and the opiois crisis, court records show.

As part of the settlement, Purdue is likely to soon file for bankruptcy protection. But New York and other states have promised to keep pursuing the Sacklers, alleging that family members drained more than $4 billion from the company over the last dozen years to avoid future legal claims.

In its filing Friday, New York told a state judge that the only way it can determine the full extent of those transfers is if all those it has subpoenaed are forced to provide documents detailing their interactions with the Sackler family.

“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. The limited number of documents provided to us so far underscore the necessity for compliance with every subpoena,” New York Atty. Gen. Letitia James said in a statement.