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Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes testifies for a fourth day

  • November 29, 2021

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes arrived at a California court on Monday to testify for a fourth day at her fraud trial, where she has portrayed herself as an entrepreneur who faced challenges in an attempt to reshape the blood-testing industry.

Holmes, 37, has pleaded not guilty to nine wire fraud counts and two conspiracy counts. She is accused of lying about Theranos, a now-defunct blood-testing startup that had touted technology that supposedly could run diagnostic tests more quickly and accurately than traditional lab testing with a drop of blood from a finger prick.

Once valued at $9bn, Theranos vaulted Holmes, a Stanford University dropout, to Silicon Valley stardom. Theranos collapsed after The Wall Street Journal published a series of articles starting in 2015 that suggested its devices were flawed and inaccurate. She was indicted in 2018.

Holmes is testifying in United States federal court in her own defence, telling her side of the story publicly in court in a risky move that exposes her to a potentially tough cross-examination by prosecutors.

Her third day of testimony came on Tuesday, when she denied lying to the Walgreens drugstore chain about her company’s technology, offering rationales for withholding important details about operations and internal reports.

Since the trial began in September, jurors in San Jose have heard evidence that prosecutors say proves Holmes defrauded investors between 2010 and 2015 and deceived patients once Theranos began making its tests commercially available, including through a partnership with Walgreens.

Prosecutors during opening statements said Holmes turned to fraud after pharmaceutical companies lost interest in the Theranos technology. Her attorneys told jurors that Holmes was simply a young, hardworking entrepreneur whose company failed.

Holmes in earlier testimony said she believed Theranos could have achieved its goal of a miniaturised device that would make diagnostic testing cheaper and more accessible, pointing to positive results from early work with drugmakers including Pfizer Inc.

She also said plans to place Theranos devices in Walgreens stores hit regulatory and logistical challenges.

During the trial, jurors also have heard testimony from more than two dozen prosecution witnesses, including patients and investors who prosecutors have said Holmes deceived.

Former Theranos Chief Operating Officer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who also faces charges, is scheduled to be tried separately next year. Holmes testified briefly last week that Balwani, who has pleaded not guilty, prepared financial projections that were shared with investors.

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