Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes to pin blame on her ex in wire-fraud trial

Wire-fraud accused Elizabeth Holmes, who famously founded the now defunct health tech company Theranos as a teenager, will claim her judgment was impaired because of physical and sexual abuse from her boyfriend and business partner, her attorneys say.

Ms Holmes is expected to take the stand at her trial, which begins in San Jose, California, today.  

The 37-year-old presided over the collapse of the heavily hyped blood-testing company, which was worth $9bn (€7.6bn) before it failed.

Filings posted by her defence team will pin the blame on Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani, who is due to be tried separately.

Ms Holmes, who claimed her blood-testing technology would revolutionise medicine, is now accused of misleading investors by claiming her company would generate $1bn (€840m) in 2015 alone and lying to patients about the efficacy of the devices.

Details of Ms Holmes’s strategy transpired over the weekend, with papers filed by her legal team.

She will accuse Mr Balwani of monitoring her calls, text messages and emails.  Ms Holmes also alleges he was physically violent and threw “hard, sharp objects” at her.

“This pattern of abuse and coercive control continued over the approximately decade-long duration of Ms Holmes and Mr Balwani’s relationship, including during the period of the charged conspiracies,” they wrote.

Ms Holmes and Mr Balwani have each been charged with 10 counts of wire fraud – using telecommunications for dishonest financial purposes. They are also accused of two charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud.

If convicted, they could be jailed for up to 20 years.

They also face massive fines – $250,000 (€210,000) for each offence – as well as being ordered to repay the investors they allegedly conned.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

The key to Theranos was a device known as Edison which, it was claimed, was capable of running multiple tests on a pinprick of blood and delivering rapid results to the patient and doctor.

However, the device simply didn’t work.

A pathologist called Adam Clapper noticed there had never been any peer-reviewed data of the Edison.

The Wall Street Journal then began its own investigation, which led to a blizzard of litigation, culminating in the criminal case being taken in California.

Legal experts believe one option for Ms Holmes would be to seek a plea deal, which would involve some jail time – but considerably less than she would face if convicted by a jury. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)

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