Kickbacks Paid Out of Valeant Corporate Funds Spent on Philidor Option Were Laundered Through Secret Shell Companies
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the arrests of GARY TANNER, a former executive at Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (“Valeant”), and ANDREW DAVENPORT, the former Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of Philidor Rx Services LLC (“Philidor”), for engaging in a multimillion-dollar fraud and kickback scheme. TANNER was arrested in Gilbert, Arizona, and will be presented later today before a Magistrate Judge in Phoenix. DAVENPORT was arrested this morning in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and will be presented later today before a Magistrate Judge in Philadelphia.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Today, we charge corporate fraud at Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Gary Tanner, a former Valeant executive, and Andrew Davenport, the CEO of Philidor, allegedly concocted a fraudulent scheme to illegally use Philidor as a vehicle for personal profit and self-dealing. Their alleged kickback scheme illegally converted Valeant shareholder money into their own personal nest eggs. As alleged, while purporting to be arms-length business counterparts, the two men were, in fact, partners in crime.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney said: “As shareholders, we should be able to put our faith in those responsible for making decisions on behalf of our investments. We should be able to rely on them for placing our best interests above their own. But as evidenced by today’s charges, our right to honest services is sometimes exploited by those who engage in kickback schemes that pose significant risks to investors.”
As alleged in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
Valeant is a publicly traded pharmaceutical manufacturer headquartered in Canada, with its principal place of business in New Jersey. Philidor was a specialty mail-order pharmacy that was formed in or about January 2013 with the assistance of Valeant, including the provision of financing, personnel, and supervision. During the course of Philidor’s existence, at least 90 percent of the drugs dispensed by Philidor were Valeant-branded drugs.
TANNER was the Valeant executive primarily responsible for the Philidor relationship, as well as Valeant’s alternative fulfillment (“AF”) program more generally. Valeant’s AF program attempted to cause doctors to prescribe, and patients to purchase, Valeant Pharmaceuticals instead of generic substitutes or alternatives by helping obtain insurance coverage for those drugs or providing other incentives for prescription and purchase of Valeant drugs. As part of his work at Valeant, TANNER interacted directly with Philidor’s executives, including DAVENPORT, and senior Valeant executives.
Despite being well compensated by Valeant to represent its interests, TANNER used Valeant human and financial resources to benefit Philidor and its largest owner, DAVENPORT, in a variety of ways, including by arranging for Philidor to receive $2 million in Valeant financing, as well as the support of numerous Valeant staff, including a Valeant-paid sales force that was dedicated to promoting sales through Philidor. DAVENPORT recognized the importance of TANNER’s support to Philidor’s success, stating in an email to TANNER concerning Philidor: “We both know that this endeavor would face a nearly insurmountable uphill struggle to succeed in the present Valeant environment without your confident support and the efforts of your team.”
Some of TANNER’s actions benefiting Philidor placed Valeant and its shareholders at risk. Among other things, TANNER resisted efforts to diversify Valeant’s AF program to include other commercially available alternatives to Philidor, increasing Valeant’s dependence on Philidor and what is known as “payor risk,” i.e., the risk that actions by insurers and other payors concerning Philidor could adversely affect Valeant’s financial performance. When asked directly by senior Valeant executives whether he had a financial interest in Philidor, TANNER falsely denied having any such interests.
In the fall of 2014, TANNER and DAVENPORT took advantage of Valeant’s dependence on Philidor to help orchestrate Valeant’s agreement to purchase an option to acquire Philidor (the “Option Agreement”) at a cost to Valeant shareholders of almost $300 million, including $100 million in up-front payments, a $33 million time-based milestone payment, and potential future multimillion-dollar sales-based milestone payments.
Even while TANNER was repeatedly certifying that he was in full compliance with Valeant’s Standards of Business Conduct, which prohibited any conflicts of interest without full disclosure and approval by company management, TANNER and DAVENPORT were making preparations for TANNER to receive multimillion-dollar kickbacks out of the sums paid by Valeant for the Philidor option. Among other things, TANNER and DAVENPORT set up shell companies and shell company bank accounts to be used to launder and distribute the kickbacks. While these preparations were underway, TANNER served as an adviser to his employer Valeant in its negotiations with DAVENPORT over the Option Agreement, even while he secretly advised DAVENPORT on his negotiations with Valeant using a secret Philidor email account that TANNER maintained in the name of “Brian Wilson.”
When the Option Agreement was signed in December 2010, Valeant sent $100 million to the bank accounts of the beneficial owners of Philidor, including DAVENPORT; that sum was followed soon thereafter by the $33 million time-based milestone payment. Over $40 million of those sums were sent to entities that DAVENPORT controlled, including to an entity called “End Game LP.” DAVENPORT kicked back close to $10 million of that sum to TANNER. Those sums were laundered through shell company bank accounts, including a company TANNER had created in the name of Befrielse Consolidated, LLC (“Befrielse”). TANNER used the kickback funds to purchase a new home, to pay for personal expenses, retire debts, and make investments, among other things. DAVENPORT used his share of the proceeds to purchase tens of millions of dollars in securities and to purchase luxury goods and items, including the installation of a $50,000 custom wine cellar.
After the Option Agreement was executed, TANNER continued to use his position at Valeant to advance the interests of Philidor and DAVENPORT, including by expanding the number of Valeant products sold through Philidor and resisting Valeant’s efforts to collect cash from Philidor that Valeant was entitled to collect. In communications concerning the scheme, using TANNER’s secret Brian Wilson email account, DAVENPORT discussed with TANNER how TANNER would secretly continue to promote DAVENPORT’s interests, even while he purported to represent Valeant’s interests as the Valeant executive responsible for Philidor. Among other things, DAVENPORT stated that he pictured his and TANNER’s “butch and sundance ride into the sunset (or off the cliff as in the flick),” to which TANNER responded, using the secret Brian Wilson account: “[G]ave me a good chuckle when I just saw it. Will have to keep playing the game :).”
Neither the nature of Valeant’s relationship to Philidor nor Valeant’s increasing dependence on Philidor to achieve its sales and profitability goals, was disclosed to the public by Valeant until investor websites and news organizations revealed suspect aspects of Philidor’s operations and Valeant’s connection to Philidor in or about October 2015. Following and in connection with these revelations, several insurers, and other payors terminated their contracts with Philidor, resulting in the realization of the payor risk that senior executives at Valeant had sought to avoid by diversifying away from Philidor, and Valeant’s stock price declined dramatically.
TANNER, 39, of Gilbert, Arizona, and DAVENPORT, 48, of Haverford, Pennsylvania, are each charged with four counts: one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud; one count of honest services wire fraud; one count of conspiring to violate the Travel Act; and one count of conspiring to commit money laundering. Counts One, Two, and Four each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Count Three carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences, in this case, are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the FBI. He further thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its cooperation and assistance in this investigation. He added that the FBI’s investigation was ongoing.
The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Since the fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force and the Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard Master, Robert Allen, Richard Cooper, and Ian McGinley are in charge of the prosecution.
The allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.