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Dept of Justice ordered to release $5 million in assets seized from Indian-American executive convicted of fraud

New York, Aug 14 (IANS) The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has been ordered to release nearly $5 million in assets seized from an Indian-American executive of a Chicago-based health technology startup who was convicted in a corporate fraud scheme, a media report said.

Rishi Shah, 37, co-founder and former CEO of Outcome Health, was convicted in April for his role in a $1 billion fraud scheme that targeted the company’s clients, lenders, and investors.

A federal judge ruled recently that $4.9 million in investments should not have been frozen because they were made before the crimes occurred, the Chicago Business newspaper reported.

Prosecutors froze about $55 million in total assets, mostly holdings in startups and investment funds, owned by Shah and Shradha Agarwal — former president of the company who was also convicted,

Shah’s attorneys argued that $4.9 million of that was incorrectly frozen money that their client wanted to use for legal fees for representation at sentencing and for an appeal.

The government sought to keep the money frozen, arguing that it will be needed to pay restitution that it will ultimately seek. But it hasn’t done so yet, according to the Chicago Business.

“While the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act allows the government to enforce an existing restitution order, it says nothing about a future one,” US District Judge Thomas Durkin wrote.

“The court declines to take that leap.”

During the trial, Shah, who owned about 80 per cent of the company’s assets, sought to have $10 million of the frozen assets returned to him, which he and Agarwal could use to hire lawyers, but the request was denied.

According to the news report, Shah’s attorneys have questioned how the government traced his assets and hinted at the value of improperly frozen assets, which may now be worth more.

“To the extent that Shah believes that the amount of untainted property presently restrained exceeds $4,856,482.41, the court will require further briefing and proceedings on that issue,” judge Durkin wrote in his ruling.

Shah, who was convicted of five counts of mail fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and two counts of money laundering, won’t be sentenced until fall.

According to the Justice Department, Outcome Health installed television screens and tablets in doctors’ offices around the US and then sold advertising space on those devices to clients, most of whom were pharmaceutical companies.

Shah and Agarwal overbilled customers, which inflated Outcome Health’s financials, which were then used to raise $488 million from investors and $435 million from lenders.

About $69 million of that money went to Shah and Agarwal.

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