Crime & Justice

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes found guilty of fraud

International Desk, Jan 4 (EFE).- Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of defrauding investors of her blood-testing startup out of hundreds and millions of dollars in a trial that gripped Silicon Valley.

Monday’s verdict sealed the downfall of the young entrepreneur who marketed her health tech startup as a groundbreaking blood testing technology that would use automated devices to provide rapid diagnoses of a range of medical issues from just a few drops of blood.

Homes, 37, was found guilty on four of 11 fraud charges, including three counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for deceiving investors over the equipment the biotech company had developed.

“The charges stem from Defendants’ allegedly deceptive representations about their company and its medical testing technology,” the Northern District Court of California said in a statement.

Each charge could carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of some $250,000. Holmes could also be ordered to return the money to investors who were scammed.

After seven days of deliberations, the jury, made up of eight men and four women, acquitted Holmes of four other fraud charges, including conspiracy to defraud patients. The jury also failed to reach a joint verdict on three counts of investor fraud.

Holmes launched her biotech firm aged 19 in 2003 after dropping out of Stanford University and shot to fame securing nearly $1 billion in investments for an allegedly cutting-edge device that led the media and tech analysts to draw comparisons between the young executive and other tech superstars like Apple’s Steve Jobs.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and the Walton Family, owners of Walmart retail corporation were among the high profile investors who were duped by Holmes’ pitches.

The Theranos blood testing device was at least a quarter of the price of traditional tests carried out in conventional health settings which prompted the American pharmacy chain Walgreens to partner with the biotech firm to offer the supposedly revolutionary testing gadgets in its California and Arizona stores.

In late 2015, The Wall Street Journal published a series of investigative articles in which the paper questioned the credibility and accuracy of Theranos tests and accused the company of, among other things, diluting patients’ blood samples to increase their volume.

The report led the United States Department of Justice to press charges against Holmes and Ramseh ‘Sunny’ Balwani, former president and chief operating officer of Theranos and Holmes’ former partner, accusing them of misleading investors, doctors and patients.

The Theranos company was dissolved in September 2018. EFE


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