Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes branded a ‘liar and a cheat’ on first day of media spectacle fraud trial
Fraud rap: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was branded a ‘liar and a cheat’ on day one of her trial, which could see her face 20 years in jail.
The court case in San Jose, California, is one of the most closely watched in corporate history. Holmes is charged with fraud against patients and investors of her defunct medical tech company.
‘This is a case about fraud – about lying and cheating to get money,’ Robert Leach, a member of the prosecution team, said in his opening statement.
Holmes, 37, is accused of making false claims about the company, including that its devices designed to draw a drop of blood from a finger prick could run a range of tests more quickly and accurately than a conventional laboratory.
Holmes, who founded Theranos in 2003, claimed its Edison machines could quickly conduct a wide range of blood tests.
The US has accused Holmes of knowing that the tests were limited and unreliable, harming patients who used them, and overstating Theranos’s business deals and performance.
Holmes ‘dazzled’ companies such as Walgreens and Safeway and other investors with false claims including suggesting the technology had been vetted by pharmaceutical companies, Leach said.
A Stanford University dropout who started Theranos in 2003 age 19, her ideas and image garnered a following of rich and powerful men including former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who appointed her as an ambassador for global entrepreneurship.
If convicted, Holmes could face up to 20 years behind bars.