04 January 2022

Ex Silicon Valley tycoon Elizabeth Holmes convicted of fraud after duping billionaires into backing her revolutionary ‘blood-testing’ start-up Theranos

04 January 2022

Elizabeth Holmes has been convicted of fraud for turning her blood-testing start-up Theranos into a sophisticated sham.

The scheme duped billionaires and other unwitting investors into backing a seemingly revolutionary company whose medical technology never worked as promised.

A jury convicted the 37-year-old on two counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud after seven days of deliberation.

Elizabeth Holmes faces ‘at least a few years’ in prison, according to one expert (Nic Coury/AP) (AP)

The verdict followed a three-month trial featuring dozens of witnesses — including Holmes herself. She now faces up to 20 years in prison for each count, although legal experts say she is unlikely to receive anything close to the maximum sentence.

The jury were deadlocked on three remaining charges. The split verdicts are “a mixed bag for the prosecution, but it’s a loss for Elizabeth Holmes because she is going away to prison for at least a few years”, said David Ring, a lawyer who has followed the case closely.

Federal prosecutors presented evidence to depict Holmes as a charlatan obsessed with fame and fortune.

In seven days on the witness stand, she cast herself as a visionary trailblazer in male-dominated Silicon Valley who was emotionally and sexually abused by her former lover and business partner, Sunny Balwani.

Holmes was supported throughout the trial by her current partner Billy Evans, right (Nic Coury/AP) (AP)

The trial also exposed the pitfalls of one of the go-to moves of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs — conveying a boundless optimism regardless of whether it is warranted, known as Fake It ‘Til You Make It.

That ethos helped hatch groundbreaking companies such as Google, Netflix, Facebook, and Apple — the latter co-founded by one of Holmes’ heroes, Steve Jobs.

Her conviction might lower the wattage — at least temporarily — on the brash promises and bold exaggerations that have become a routine part of the tech industry’s innovation hustle.

Holmes remained seated and expressed no visible emotion as the verdicts were read.

She bowed her head several times before the jury was polled by US District Judge Edward Davila and after the judge left the courtroom to meet with jurors individually, Holmes got up to hug her partner, Billy Evans, and her parents before leaving with her lawyers.

Holmes did not respond to questions about the verdicts lobbed at her during a walk from the courthouse to the nearby hotel where she has stayed during jury deliberations.

She was to remain free on bond while awaiting sentencing, which will be determined by the judge.

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