Six months after Universal Health Care Group declared bankruptcy, authorities are piecing together how extravagant spending and possible criminal conduct led to the demise of the once-thriving Medicare insurer.
A bankruptcy trustee alleges that Dr. Akshay "Doc" Desai, founder of the St. Petersburg company, and two of his top lieutenants took kickbacks from vendors seeking to do business with Universal.
A major bank alleges Desai might have had an insider stake in an Indian outsourcing company that collected millions of dollars from a Universal affiliate.
And the court official charged with liquidating Universal's assets and paying creditors has hired a top Miami law firm for a specific mission: to coordinate with federal prosecutors "in connection with any criminal related matters."
Desai and at least two of his former executives have hired well-known criminal defense attorneys, who insist their clients have done nothing wrong.
But interviews and recently filed court records show that even as Universal spiraled toward collapse, its leaders lived large at company expense. Desai and his wife, Seema, enjoyed weekends at a sumptuous corporate condo decorated with at least $115,000 in furnishings, including original artwork. Top executives drove luxury BMWs and joined dozens of other employees on a company-paid Mediterranean cruise. At the time, Medicare officials derided Universal for having among the worst customer service in the country with frequent complaints from members denied services and health care providers denied timely reimbursement. Story here.