Three Indian-origin ex-executives of a Chicago-based health tech start-up have been charged by the federal authorities for their alleged roles in a fraud scheme which involved falsifying the company's financial performance to raise nearly USD 1 billion in debt and private equity.
The co-founders of Outcome Health Rishi Shah, 33, and Shradha Aggarwal, 34, and former executive Ashik Desai, 26, are among six people accused of fraud "that targeted the company's clients, lenders and investors," the US Department of Justice said on Monday.
"Outcome's former executives and employees allegedly deceived lenders, investors, and their own auditors by falsely representing revenue for additional profit," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John P Cronan of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.
"The charges announced today demonstrate that lies and deception cannot serve as the basis for any company, including start-up companies, to falsely grow revenue for additional capital and private gain," Cronan said.
Shah and Agarwal co-founded the health care advertising company and owned it in 2015 and 2016, when the alleged fraud occurred.
According to the Justice Department, from 2011 to 2017, the former executives and employees of Outcome sold tens of millions of dollars of advertising inventory that did not exist.
This allegedly resulted in inflated financial statements that the former executives used to raise nearly USD 1 billion in debt and equity financing in 2016 and 2017, it said in a statement.
"The deception alleged to have been committed by the defendants tricked clients into paying for advertising it failed to deliver and served to falsely inflate the value of Outcome Health," said Assistant US Attorney Brian Hayes, Chief of the Criminal Division for the Northern District of Illinois.
"These charges demonstrate that the FBI and its partners will hold businesses accountable for their misconduct," said Deputy Special Agent in Charge Larry L Lapp of the FBI's Chicago Field Office.
The defendants were charged with allegedly over-inflating the company's revenue figures in order to fraudulently obtain loans from banks, said Inspector General Jay N Lerner of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG).
Shah, Agarwal and Purdy are each charged with various counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud. Purdy is also charged with one count of false statements to a financial institution, and Shah is also charged with two counts of transactions in criminal proceeds. Desai is charged with one count of wire fraud, the statement said.