SEC Charges Former Top Executives With $487 Million Fraud

(HedgeCo.Net) The Securities and Exchange Commission has amended a complaint to charge four former executives of Outcome Health, a private advertising company, with fraud in raising nearly half a billion dollars by falsely portraying the company as an overwhelming success to investors, clients, and auditors.

The SEC’s amended complaint alleges that Outcome Health’s former executives, CEO Rishi Shah, President Shradha Agarwal, CFO Brad Purdy, and Executive VP Ashik Desai, engaged in a fraudulent scheme to misrepresent the company’s business successes while raising hundreds of millions of dollars from unsuspecting investors. Outcome Health charges pharmaceutical company clients to display ads in doctors’ offices, and the amended complaint alleges the defendants were aware of or engaged in a scheme to bill clients and recognize revenue for ads it never ran. The amended complaint also alleges that Outcome Health manipulated third-party studies to conceal problems delivering ads and make them appear more effective than they were. Outcome Health is alleged to have overstated its revenue in its audited financial statements for 2015 and 2016 by at least $14.3 million and $30 million, respectively, while raising approximately $487 million from a private offering to investors who relied on the false financial statements and false representations about the company’s growth. Nearly half of the funds raised went to Shah and Agarwal, Outcome Health’s co-founders.

“Today’s action seeks to hold Outcome Health’s most senior executives accountable for an alleged massive fraud,” said Steven Peikin, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “We charge that these C-suite officers defrauded investors out of hundreds of millions — and the co-founders lined their own pockets— through blatant lies about the company’s financial and business performance.”

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois and Fraud Section of the Department of Justice announced criminal charges against Shah, Agarwal, Purdy and Desai as well as two employees who are not named in the SEC’s action.

The SEC’s amended complaint, filed in federal court in Chicago, charges the defendants with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The SEC seeks return of allegedly ill-gotten gains plus interest, penalties, injunctive relief and officer and director bars.

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