Canopy Financial ‘Fesses Up

Court documents filed with Canopy’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy today show that the company owes nearly $26 million — most of it to holders of Health Savings Accounts that were managed by Canopy or one of its partners.

The difference between what Canopy thought was in the accounts and what remained there as of November 30 is nearly $20 million. Thousands of accounts are affected — the documents show that 13,697 accounts, with a balance of more than $17 million, were held by Coventry Health Care. Coventry is reimbursing its account holders and has filed a claim to get the money back from Canopy.

Other account holders include Dewitt Stern, FlexRight, ISU Financial Services, Shawnee Administrative Services, Veritas Health Systems Administrators and Canopy itself, through its Wellfund program.

Account holders may have a tough time getting their money back, though,

Canopy Financial Files For Chapter 7

The beleaguered startup has asked a federal judge to convert its petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy into a Chapter 7, which means it will shut down. A hearing is scheduled tomorrow on this and several other issues in Chicago.

Under Chapter 7, all disputes over Canopy’s finances will be handled by an independent trustee who’s been appointed by the court. That means all of Canopy’s creditors — including those people who deposited money in a Canopy Health Savings Account and expected to use it to pay their medical bills — will now have “one throat to choke,” said a source close to the company.

Canopy’s HSA account holders have been left hanging for three weeks.

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Granite Global Ventures Should Do Right By Canopy Customers

Ever since the Canopy Financial scandal broke last month, there has been lots of speculation about existing investors cashing out during the company’s July financing round. peHUB has now learned that $40 million of the $62.5 million deal was used as liquidity for Granite Global Ventures, Canopy board member John Powers (CEO of Stanford Management Co.) and Canopy’s three co-founders. Of that, GGV took the lion’s share with $27.5 million.

It’s time for them to give the money back.

As Deb reports below, over 1,000 people have had their Health Savings Accounts frozen because of the Canopy fraud. This mean sick people could be unable to access money saved for the purpose of paying medical bills. They may get the cash back eventually — via bankruptcy proceedings — but that’s cold comfort to someone who is ill or injured right now.

I’m told that one large healthcare administrator is making its clients good in the meantime, but it is an exception to to rule. Everyone else is just out of luck, and the FDIC doesn’t care because a failed bank isn’t involved.

Holders Of Canopy’s Health Savings Accounts Sue

A class action lawsuit has been filed in federal court in East St. Louis against Amcore Financial, a bank that allegedly held $17 million in Health Savings Accounts that were managed by Canopy Financial’s software.

The suit was filed on December 15, four days after peHUB reported that Canopy had sent a letter to account holders saying it had reason to believe that former executives were skimming money from the accounts.

The accounts — which are now frozen because of a dispute over how much should be in them — are a way for employers to let their employees set aside money for medical bills and get a tax break for doing so.

However, plaintiff Susan Patton claims that “several millions of dollars” of the money has been misappropriated and that she and the other account holders — over 1,000 people — have no access to what’s left.

(UPDATE: In a statement, Amcore says it is “not a custodian of any health savings accounts, and accordingly we believe claimant’s allegations are without merit. Amcore will vigorously defend itself against this claim.”)

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Errors Reported In Canopy HSA Accounts

Some people who have Health Savings Accounts administered by Canopy Financial’s software have had their accounts frozen because of a dispute over how much money is supposed to be in them, peHUB has learned.

Health Savings Accounts are a way for employers to let their employees set aside a certain amount of money each year for healthcare expenses and to get a tax break for doing so.

Yesterday, peHUB reported that Canopy had sent a letter to its customers saying it had reason to believe that its former executives were skimming money from the accounts. Canopy has not yet responded to our report. The company’s former president, Jeremy Blackburn, was indicted for wire fraud last week in Chicago federal court. Separately, Blackburn and Canopy were sued by the SEC.

We’re now told that the discrepancy between what the banks think should be in some of the accounts and what employees think should be there is substantial.

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Canopy Financial Execs Accused of Stealing from Clients

Thus far, the Canopy Financial story has been about how some company execs allegedly cooked the books to secure more than $60 million in new venture capital investment. But we’ve now learned that the scheming may have been far broader, and affected many more people than just Canopy’s investors and (mostly laid-off) employees.

In a letter sent yesterday to its customers, Canopy said that it has reason to believe that former executives were skimming from the Health Savings Accounts that Canopy’s technology is designed to help administer. In other words, they were stealing from ordinary folks employed by companies like Fifth Third Bank and Sovereign Bank (Canopy also claimed many clients outside the financial services space, but we’ve been unable to confirm their validity).

Canopy’s letter did not say how much money might have been taken, but we hear that it was well in excess of just a few hundred thousand dollars.

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Canopy Smells Like Entellium, which Resulted in CEO & CFO Doing Time

As Jeff Bussgang pointed out in his column today, the alleged fraud at VC-backed Canopy Financial is reminiscent of the fraud case at VC-backed Entellium last year. In that case, the former CEO and CFO were sent to prison in March for wire fraud and lying to investors (including Ignition Partners and Intel Captial) about their company’s actual revenue.

Former Entellium CEO Paul Johnston was sentenced to three years in prison and a little over $2 million in restitution, while former CFO Parrish Jones was sent away for two years and ordered to make restitution of more than $850,000.

Once they get out of prison, the pair also have to serve 80 hours of community service in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

Venture Capital Journal published a story last year after the Entellium case broke, questioning whether VCs could have done anything to prevent the fraud. Since it’s Friday, dear HUB readers, I’m making the story free today. Read it here.

Canopy Financial: More Indictments Coming

Former Canopy Financial president Jeremy Blackburn has now been charged with wire fraud by federal authorities in Chicago, who claim that he allegedly diverted more than $2 million of a $60 million investment in Canopy last summer for “personal expenses and luxury items,” including an attempt to use a false bank statement to get a mortgage on a new home in Malibu.

Blackburn appeared in federal court in Chicago yesterday and is free on $1 million unsecured bond. A committee of outside directors that excludes the founders of Canopy is working with authorities on the case.

As part of the Series D round raised last summer from Spectrum Equity, Foundation Capital and another investor, Canopy agreed to provide audited financial statements and said that Blackburn and two other co-founders would sell up to 10 percent of their shares. Blackburn sold shares for $1.6 million, according to federal authorities, and Individual B, identified as Canopy’s chief technology officer, sold $975,000 worth of shares.Tony Banas, who held the CTO position at Canopy, has not been charged in the case.

An FBI affidavit (see below) also describes interactions between Canopy and KPMG, whose letterhead was allegedly used to provide a falsified audit to investors. KPMG never did audit Canopy’s financials, but it did provide a SAS 70 audit and had e-mailed a sample of an independent audit and other documents to Canopy’s chief administrative officer, who forwarded the documents to Individual B, the FBI said.

Here’s The SEC Complaint Against Canopy

Former chief technology officer Tony Banas is not a defendant in this suit and remains on the board of directors, according to the SEC’s complaint, which was filed this week in federal court in Chicago.

Canopy and Jeremy Blackburn, Canopy’s former president and chief operating officer, are defendants, however, and are accused of engaging in a fraudulent scheme to raise $75 million from investors.

The complaint describes false financial statements and a false KPMG audit, along with false bank statements and inaccurate monthly operating reports.

Blackburn is also accused of misappropriating $1.17 million of investor funds for personal use. He allegedly sent the false KPMG audit and false financial statements to former CEO Vikram Kashyap, who has claimed to know nothing about the fraud, and asked Banas in e-mail messages to lie about the existence of the KPMG audit.

Canopy’s Demise Came At The Worst Time

This is open enrollment season for healthcare plans, and Canopy’s customers are scrambling to find a replacement for Canopy’s software to get them through it, according to Red Gillen, an analyst at Celent who follows the banking industry.

Canopy’s customers had been very happy with the software until reports broke last week that Canopy had falsified financial statements, Gillen said. They’re telling him they did their due diligence on Canopy and — like a lot of other people, apparently — were taken by surprise.

In a report published in January, another Celent analyst, Bart Narter, rated Canopy’s technology as the best in the industry — better than several older, larger competitors’ — and he said today he stands by that recommendation.

Canopy Financial’s Bankruptcy Filing

The beleaguered startup filed a petition for Chapter 11 last Wednesday — the day before Thanksgiving — in federal bankruptcy court in Chicago.

Below are two of the court documents: The bankruptcy petition, whose long list of creditors includes Thomson Reuters, publisher of peHUB; and a 22-page declaration from Canopy’s general counsel, Dan Stevenson, who offers some explanation of why the company filed. Lots of questions are unanswered though.

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Is Canopy Financial Another Black Eye for Wilson Sonsini?

It appears that venture capitalists aren’t the only ones to have erased Canopy Financial from their websites, following allegations that the company cooked its books. peHUB has learned that law firm Wilson Sonsini also scrubbed itself clean, removing references to Canopy from the profiles of partner and associate Daniel Green. Here’s the cached version of Green’s bio, for example, and here’s the current version.

If this sounds familiar, it may be because Wilson Sonsini did the same thing with Entellium, the last company known to have enticed well-known VC firms with bogus financials. As Gawker’s Owen Thomas wrote in October 2008:

If your company ever gets into serious trouble, wouldn’t you like to know your lawyer’s standing behind you publicly? Better hope you’re not represented by Wilson Sonsini, then. After Seattle software startup Entellium saw its CEO and CFO charged with wire fraud and cooking the company’s books, Entellium disappeared from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner Craig Sherman’s list of clients.

It’s unclear if Wilson Sonsini attorneys were the “legal professionals” ex-Canopy CEO Vikram Kashyap “relied on financial… in accepting the authenticity of the company’s financials,” as he said in his only public comment on the matter.

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Canopy Execs Depart Following Fraud Accusations

Two executives of Canopy Financial have left the company in the wake of accusations of financial fraud, a Canopy spokesman confirmed today.

President and chief operating officer Jeremy Blackburn has resigned, and chief technology officer Tony Banas has been placed on administrative leave. So far, peHUB has been unable to reach either one of them for comment.

CEO Vikram Kashyap released a statement yesterday through his attorney, saying that he had “no prior knowledge whatsoever of any fraud regarding Canopy’s financial statements” and that he “relied on financial and legal professionals in accepting the authenticity of the company’s financials.” Although Kashyap has stepped down as CEO of Canopy, he said he will remain as chairman to help hold any fraudsters accountable.

The spokesman also said that Canopy has informed its customers and investors of the fraud allegations and continues

Statement from Canopy Financial’s Ex-CEO

Earlier today we reported on massive fraud at Canopy Financial, a San Francisco-based company that had raised over $88 million in VC funding. Company founder Vikram Kashyap has just issued the following statement, via his attorney:

Vik Kashyap had no prior knowledge whatsoever of any fraud regarding Canopy’s financial statements. He is as surprised as anyone about these allegations. He relied on financial and legal professionals in accepting the authenticity of the company’s financials. Going forward, he will leave his role as CEO of Canopy, but will remain as Chairman of the Board of Directors, helping to ensure that anyone who committed fraud is held fully accountable.

We have requested an interview with Kashyap, although don’t expect that it will be granted.

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Fraud Beneath The Canopy

Eight years ago, Vikram Kashyap left his job as an associate with Battery Ventures, in order to get the type of operating experience he felt was required to become a “world class” investor. After stops at eMeta and American Express, Kashyap launched Canopy Financial, a company whose technology helps streamline the administration of Health Savings Accounts. Canopy raised over $88 million in VC funding, including $62.5 million this past summer from Spectrum Equity Investors and return backer Foundation Capital.

Today, Kashyap is unemployed and Canopy executives are likely to face both criminal and civil accusations of fraud (although no charges have yet been filed).

As first reported this morning by TechCrunch, Canopy Financial appears to have largely been a facade. Its technology is real, but many of its tax statements, customer records and financial results were bogus. Sources tell peHUB that the company laid off approximately 100 of its 120 employees last Thursday, after an investor audit showed signs of severe impropriety.

“The entire company thought everything was going great until two or three weeks ago,” says a former employee who asked not to be identified. “Once that [audit] happened things moved very fast. The last week in our office was like going to a funeral.”

Canopy Financial Buys CareGain from Fiserv

Canopy Financial, a San Francisco-based provider of technologies for connecting healthcare and financial services, has acquired health plan services provider CareGain from Fiserv Inc. (Nasdaq: FISV), according to VentureWire. No financial terms were disclosed. Canopy Financial has raised around $26 million in VC funding from firms like Granite Global Ventures and Foundation Capital. www.canopyfi.com

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