United States charges Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes with criminal fraud

16 June, 2018, 15:13 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes indicted after stepping down as CEO

Federal prosecutors indicted Holmes on criminal charges Friday afternoon, alleging that the Theranos founder defrauded investors, doctors and patients with their micro-blood-testing service that never really existed. Balwani is fighting the charges. They're alleged to have perpetrated multi-million dollar schemes to defraud investors, doctors and patients.

As the charges were announced Friday, Theranos said Holmes would step down as CEO of the company and its general counsel, David Taylor, would become the company's next CEO. That claim won backing of some of the country's largest tech companies and biggest political names, and turned Ms. Holmes into a cult hero in the tech world, particularly as a woman at the head of a Silicon Valley company. This all comes just three months after the SEC sued Holmes and the Palo Alto-based company for massive fraud.

The indictment claims that Holmes and Balwani falsely claimed that they had developed revolutionary technology that could quickly provide a range of clinical tests from a small drop of blood.

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But with new criminal charges, the United States government is attempting to punish Theranos execs for both defrauding investors and knowingly endangering people's lives with inaccurate blood test results, a punishment which could discourage other companies from lying about new products. Federal prosecutors also brought charges against the company's former second in command.

Acting U.S. Attorney Alex G. Tse portrayed the indictments against Holmes and Balwani as a warning against Silicon Valley companies who use deceit in their business dealings.

Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, attends a panel discussion during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York, September 29, 2015. Mr. Balwani also did not demand a round of employee layoffs to reduce the risk of default by the company.

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Holmes and Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, the former president and COO of Theranos, were both charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud.

The indictment further alleges that Holmes and Balwani knew that many of their representations about the analyzer were false.

However, a series of Wall Street Journal articles in 2015 revealed that most of the tests Theranos claimed to be doing with its Edison machines were being carried out by traditional machines bought from other companies. The SEC said Theranos, Holmes and Balwani misled partners and investors about the company's technology, misrepresented revenue projections and falsely claimed it didn't need regulatory approval for its testing technology.

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