Disgraced Theranos CEO to go on trial as jury selection begins tomorrow

Written by on August 30, 2021

United States prosecutors are requesting 20 years of jail time and a nearly $3m fine  for Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced former CEO of Theranos, a $9bn tech startup that claimed it was changing the world of healthcare one drop of blood at a time.

Holmes and former Theranos president and chief operating officer, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, are now both facing criminal charges. They are accused of using “a combination of direct communications, marketing materials, statements to the media, financial statements, models, and other information to defraud potential investors”.

Elizabeth Holmes had dropped out of Stanford University at 19 and with her invention, she was hailed as a disruptive genius and investor darling who claimed Theranos had created proprietary technology — a machine called the Edison — that used a tiny drop of blood to screen for a variety of medical conditions, touting it as the future of lab testing technology.

Theranos claimed Edison could perform life-saving tests cheaply just about anywhere using only a finger prick of blood rather than a full vial from a vein. The machine would save money for patients and doctors, and potentially provide early diagnosis for over 200 conditions at locations as convenient as grocery stores and pharmacies.

In 2015, however, whistle-blower reports and deep dives into some data showed that the proprietary technology owned by Theranos operated inconsistently, if at all, and that tests were running on traditional lab equipment behind closed doors. In 2018, the company shuttered.

Jury selection in Holmes’s trial is slated to begin on Tuesday August 31 2021, about five years after the scandal broke.

Holmes and Balwani are being charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud for allegedly engaging “in a multi-million-dollar scheme to defraud investors, and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients”, according to the indictment.

The two are being tried separately, with Balwani’s day in court set for January 2022.

Holmes’s trial was previously delayed due to her pregnancy. She gave birth to a baby boy in July.



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