Thursday, December 08, 2022

Former Theranos exec Sunny Balwani’s trial nears end

A jury is set to hear final arguments on Tuesday in the trial of Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the former Theranos executive accused of committing large-scale fraud in collusion with his secret lover, CEO Elizabeth Holmes.

Three months of testimony and evidence reflect the case against Holmes In a different trial last year. Holmes was convicted Accused of defrauding investors and acquitted in four counts, he also defrauded patients who submitted for Theranos blood test. He is free on $500,000 bail but could face a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years. If found guilty, Balwani will also face the same punishment.

Holmes, 38, awaits sentencing in September.

Lawyers for 57-year-old Balwani have portrayed him as a well-intentioned investor and entrepreneur who became chief operating officer of Theranos in 2010 and then got swept up in the scandal by Holmes. She later left him in 2016 as his boyfriend and business partner as Theranos started revealing.

Before that rift, Balvani had put $15 million of his own money to help bolster Theranos, when Holmes brought him on board as his top lieutenant while they were secretly living together. Balvani’s Theranos investment eventually grew to about $500 million on paper—a stake that his lawyers told jurors he never sold. When the company collapsed it became worthless.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have portrayed Balwani as a ruthless accomplice who helped Holmes defraud investors. At one point, he alleged, Balwani oversaw Theranos Lab, which covered up serious flaws in the company’s blood-testing technology that could put patients’ lives at risk.

Holmes’ bold claims to Theranos helped make him a Silicon Valley star – even a wealthy one, with a paper fortune of $4.5 billion, based on the company’s success in fundraising and broking business deals based on Holmes’ promise That Theranos would revolutionize health care. Holmes claimed that the company had developed a technology that could scan for more than 200 potential health problems with a few drops of blood from a finger prick.

Balvani began dating Holmes around the same time she started Theranos, and then began offering her own business advice, drawn from her previous success, which included selling a technology startup that made her wealthy. Their relationship was the centerpiece of a Hulu TV series, “The Dropout”, The rise and fall of Holmes, which was released shortly before the trial began, complicated efforts to select an impartial jury.

During his trial, Holmes took the witness’s side and at one point shed tears at Balwani. Being a domineering person in her life that made her a victim of emotional and sexual abuse. One of Balwani’s other lawyers strongly denied those allegations during Holmes’ trial. Balwani’s lawyers have urged jurors in the current trial to discard anything they have previously read or heard about Holmes’ allegations.

There was speculation that Holmes might return to court to testify against Balwani during his trial, but this never happened. Unlike Holmes, Balwani chose to testify in his defense during his trial.

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