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Top US Investors Shook By Indian American Man’s 8,300 Crore Fraud Scheme

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New Delhi: Former billionaire and co-founder of Outcome Health Rishi Shah has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison by a US Court on Tuesday. The punishment is for an  8,300 crore ($1 billion) fraud scheme that shook high-profile investors like Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc., and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s venture capital firm.

The verdict was announced by US District Judge Thomas Durkin, who closed the lid on one of the largest corporate fraud cases in recent history. As per a report by Bloomberg, Outcome Health was an idea of Shah during his days at the university.

Originally known as Context Media Health, the company was founded in 2006 with a vision of changing medical advertising by installing televisions at doctors’ offices to stream health ads targeted at patients. Rishi Shah was joined by his co-founder Shradha Agrawal, and the growth of the company became exponential as far as valuation was concerned, all in the quest to bridge the communication gap between patients and healthcare providers innovatively through ad placements.

By the mid-2010s, Outcome Health had become a major force in the healthcare and technology investment sectors. Prominent investors were drawn to the prospect of integrating state-of-the-art technology with conventional healthcare marketing strategies. But the foundation of Outcome Health was crumbling behind the surface of shining success.

The prosecution said that Shah, 38, had misrepresented the company’s operational and financial stability to commit massive fraud against investors, consumers, and lenders. Shah also allegedly conspired with Agarwal and another defendant, chief financial officer Brad Purdy. Selling more advertising inventory than Outcome Health could deliver and falsifying statistics to make up the difference was at the heart of the scam.

It misled clients including the pharmaceutical behemoth Novo Nordisk A/S about the size and breadth of its network. False statistics mixed with misleading information created an illusion of rapid revenue growth that lured in additional funding or investment.

Shah made the most of his life because of the enormous amount of money he received from investors and the inflated sales of his advertisements. According to reports, this spending habit included exotic travel on private planes and boats, as well as the acquisition of a $10 million house. Shah’s net worth was estimated to be more than $4 billion in 2016, although this figure was inflated and depreciated as a result of numerous dishonest accounting techniques.

When the fraudulent actions were revealed in 2017 thanks to a Wall Street Journal media expose, the façade started to come apart. Subsequently, Outcome Health was sued by a group of investors that included Goldman Sachs, Alphabet, and Governor Pritzker’s company. The investors accused the company of deceit in its earlier-year $487.5 million fundraising.

This has serious legal ramifications; Shah was found guilty in April 2023 of over a dozen counts of fraud and money laundering after being indicted on these allegations. Purdy and  Agarwal joined him. However, the prosecution requested that Shah serve 15 years and his accomplices serve 10 years.

Shah, in ill health, spoke of remorse and accepted responsibility at sentencing. In a prepared remark he accepted his failure to ensure adequate management of the aggressive Outcome Health expansion and creating a corporate culture that led through deceptive practices. He said he was “ashamed and embarrassed” by the misconduct that brought down the company.

 

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