Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, an American privately held corporation which was touted as a breakthrough health technology company, “lied and cheated” for money and fame, prosecutors alleged on the first day of the former Silicon Valley star's trial.
A BBC News report notes that Holmes faces 12 fraud charges over her role at the now-defunct blood-testing firm that was once worth $9bn. She is accused of deceiving investors and patients by claiming Theranos could detect common illnesses using just a few drops of blood from a finger prick. Her lawyers said she was simply a naive businesswoman whose firm failed.
In what will be a closely watched trial in San Jose, California, Holmes denies all the charges against her but could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Former Theranos executive Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani – who was romantically involved with Holmes for years – faces the same charges but will be tried separately next year. He has also pleaded not guilty.
Holmes, who founded Theranos in 2003 aged 19, was dubbed the world's youngest self-made female billionaire and the “next Steve Jobs” thanks to her technology. However, she fell from grace in 2015 when it emerged her blood-testing devices did not work and Theranos was doing most of its testing on commercially available machines made by other manufacturers. As boss of Theranos, Holmes is alleged to have duped a host of powerful people who invested around $700m in the company, including Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, and four-star general James Mattis.
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