SAN JOSE, California (AP) – Federal prosecutors on Tuesday portrayed former Theranos chief Ramesh “Sunny” “Balwani as an accomplice in a scam hatched by his secret lover, former Theranos chief Elizabeth Holmes. a loyal soldier who tried to save the blood test company.
“Mr Balwani is not a victim, he is the perpetrator of the fraud,” prosecutor Jeffrey Schenk said toward the end of his three-and-a-half-hour closing argument to a jury in a courtroom in San Jose, California.
Jeffrey Coopersmith, one of the lawyers representing Balwani, painted Balwani as a tireless leader who “put his money where his mouth is” by investing around $ 15 million of his own fortune in Theranos between 2009 and 2011 because he believed in Holmes’ vision. .
In addition to his financial involvement in Theranos, Balwani started in Palo Alto, California, the company as CEO in 2010 while secretly living with Holmes.
“Mr. Balwani put his heart and soul into Theranos,” Coopersmith said as he began his concluding argument. Coopersmith later pointed out that Balwani was such an ardent supporter of Holmes and Theranos that he never sold his stake in the company, was worth $ 500 million, which became worthless when the company collapsed.
The duel presentations were among the icing on the cake of a three-month-old trial who will decide whether Balwani will end up in the same predicament as Holmes, who was convicted of defrauding Theranos investors in a separate trial that ended earlier this year.
Coopersmith will continue his closing defense of Balwani on Wednesday, and then prosecutors will have a chance to present a rebuttal before U.S. District Judge Edward Davila reads the final instructions that send the jury into their deliberations. The jury in Holmes’ trial spent seven days deliberating before convicting Holmes of four counts of investor fraud.
Holmes, 38, now risks up to 20 years in prison. It’s an astonishing reversal from the way she was once hailed in Silicon Valley as a technological visionary who developed a revolutionary blood test technology – one that was worth an estimated $ 4.5 billion at some point in 2014.
Balwani, 57, is accused of the same Theranos investors that Holmes did from 2010 to 2015, in addition to tricking patients who entrusted the analysis of their health into a blood test technology that did not work as the company had promised from 2013. to 2015. Holmes was acquitted of the charges that accused her of defrauding patients who received blood tests from Theranos.
Holmes and Balwani began dating around the same time she dropped out of Stanford University at the age of 19 to start Theranos, who later claimed to have discovered a way to test for more than 200 potential health problems with just a few drops of blood. They collapsed in 2016 when Theranos collapsed amid revelations of serious flaws in the technology.
In a slide describing the criminal charges, the prosecution included a picture of Balwani together with Holmes with the contents of a text from July 2015 he sent to her. “I am responsible for everything on Theranos,” Balwani wrote to Holmes. “Everyone has been my decisions too.”
Schenk also emphasized Balwani’s responsibility to oversee Theranos’ blood testing laboratory as part of an attempt to prove that he threatened patients. In a text to Holmes from 2014, Balwani described the Theranos laboratory as a “disaster zone” that included a profane description because there were so many problems there.