TridentUSA Health Services: Settles Whistleblower Suits

TridentUSA is already in bankruptcy, and has been since February of this year. On September 26, 2019 the company settled two outstanding whistleblower lawsuits brought by the government, agreeing to pay out $8.5mn, as reported by the Baltimore Business Journal.Trident provides mobile diagnostic services to residents of nursing homes. The company earns federal money to provide mobile x-rays to Medicare and Medicaid participants in the nursing homes. The whistleblowers had alleged that Trident had violated federal law by engaging in a kickback scheme, which led to a government investigation of Trident’s pricing arrangements and its costs to provide mobile x-rays at these facilities“.

In a round-about way, this settlement might be a Good Thing for the embattled company and facilitate its exit from Chapter 11. This report tells us nothing of the bigger picture.

For the BDCs involved, there is nowhere to go but up from here. Four well known public BDCs have $108mn in first and second lien loans to the company or its equally compromised sister entities. The exposure has been almost completely written off as of June 2019 and well over $10mn of investment income lost. The BDCs involved are all publicly listed: Solar Senior Capital (SUNS), Oaktree Strategic Income (OCSI), Gladstone Capital (GLAD) and the biggest player of all Ares Capital (ARCC).

Trident is one of a series of significant healthcare failures due to some kind of fraud that we’ve come across of late. Most recently, we discussed Oaktree Medical Centre in a similar vein on these pages. In recent memory, but before the advent of the BDC Credit Reporter, there have been at least two other similar cases of healthcare fraud or other catastrophic difficulty involving BDC lenders. One notable example would be RockDale BlackHawk. Maybe we should ask harder questions about the due diligence capabilities of the BDC underwriters or are stories like these just the exceptions to the rule ?