FBI targeted Outcome Health and its co-founders in fraud probe, affidavit shows: report

investigation
The FBI was running a criminal probe of Outcome Health and its co-founders at least until last November, a briefly unsealed court document seen by the Chicago Tribune showed. (AVNphotolab/iStock)

Outcome Health may have settled with investors and revamped its entire organization amid allegations that it used false information to mislead clients and financial backers, but it may still be too early to call it a page turned.

As recently as November, at least, the FBI was running a criminal probe of the Chicago-based point-of-care advertising firm and its co-founders, according to a briefly unsealed affidavit for a search warrant reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Citing “probable cause to believe” co-founders Rishi Shah and Shradha Agarwal committed mail and wire fraud, federal agents at that time asked to search a company laptop used by former Outcome Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer Brad Purdy.

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Investigators had “obtained and reviewed email, instant messages, text messages and voice messages that reflect former executives and employees’ knowledge of and participation in aspects of the fraud,” and some former employees they interviewed “admitted to engaging in fraud from 2014 to 2017,” the affidavit stated, as cited by the newspaper.

It’s unclear whether the FBI investigation continued after the search, and so far, no charges have been filed against the company, Shah or Agarwal. 

The FBI’s allegations against Outcome were largely in line with the contents of a 2017 Wall Street Journal report and of an investor lawsuit Outcome settled early last year for $159 million. Basically, the FBI said the company intentionally offered its pharma clients exaggerated information on the size of its doctors network and the number of screens those clients’ ads were running on.

RELATED: Outcome Health makes peace with investors in $159M deal that pushes high-profile founders aside

Moreover, the affidavit, as quoted by the Tribune, alleges that Outcome employees “utilized false and misleading performance studies and accounting records to raise money on at least two separate occasions,” namely a $300 million loan in 2016 and a $500 million capital raise in 2017.

At least one employee and one former executive admitted to having inflated Outcome’s performance numbers, the FBI said, according to the Tribune.

In a statement sent to FiercePharmaMarketing, Matt McNally, Outcome's CEO since 2018, stressed that “all parties allegedly involved in this misconduct have left the company and no longer have ties of any kind, including financial.”

Meanwhile, a separate probe by the Department of Justice (DOJ) is still ongoing and the company “remains fully cooperative,” McNally said. In November 2017, investors Goldman Sachs, Leerink Transformation Partners, the Pritzker Group, Norwest Venture Partners, Balyasny Asset Management and Prudence Outcome Holdings said they had received subpoenas from the DOJ as part of a fraud investigation.

Shah and Agarwal founded Outcome Health in 2006 and turned it into a unicorn valued at $5.5 billion in 2017 after a first financing round of $500 million. They stepped aside from their management roles as part of the investor settlement and later resigned from the board as well.

McNally and several board members were installed in June 2018 and immediately made what McNally called “significant investments in compliance protocols and reporting standards.” He said the company's campaign to win back the trust of customers has been successful. In a recapitalization unveiled in May, private investment firm Littlejohn & Co. acquired a majority stake in Outcome. It said the money will be used to fund its “long-term strategic plan, which was validated by third-party experts in the media and pharmaceutical marketing sectors.”

Editor's Note: The story has been updated with a statement from Matt McNally, CEO of Outcome Health.

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