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Theranos founder found guilty of fraud

Theranos founder found guilty of fraud

Elizabeth Holmes, erstwhile billionaire and founder of failed medical technology company Theranos has been found guilty in charges of defrauding investors out of thousands of dollars in the name of a technology that never existed in the first place.

Holmes was found guilty by a court in San Jose, California, but was acquitted on three other counts related to charges that she defrauded patients by offering them blood-testing kits which did not work the way she claimed.

Prosecutors said Holmes, 37, swindled private investors between 2010 and 2015 by convincing them that Theranos' small machines could run a range of tests on just a single drop of blood from a finger prick said a report by Reuters.

The 37 year-old shot to fame when she founded Theranos at age 19, winning over many investors with her persona and charisma and becoming the world's youngest female billionaire. She was often compared to Steve Jobs, whom she tried consistently to emulate in dress and behaviour and at one point, was worth $4.5 billion as quoted by Forbes in 2015.

However, a series of Wall Street articles demolished Theranis' reputation, as it emerged that the company did not have any basis for claims of innovating blood testing. Theranos had advertised its products - small machines that could diagnose a multitude of diseases with a single drop of blood - as a paradigm-changing leap forward that would revolutionise the medical industry.

Instead, the company was using old Siemen's machines and fudging test results to appear more credible. None of the technology Theranos claimed to have even deployed for use in the field by the military existed, and the company would have gone down sooner if Holmes had not lied about the state of affairs, prosecutors alleged.

"She chose fraud over business failure. She chose to be dishonest," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Schenk said at the start of closing arguments in the case. "That choice was not only callous, it was criminal."

Holmes was acquitted on charges of defrauding patients. Her attorneys had argued there was no statistical evidence showing errors were happening at such a high rate that Holmes knew the tests were inaccurate.

She had also previously attempted to assert that her actions were influenced by her former lover and Theranos co-founder Ramesh 'Sunny' Balwani, an American businessman, whom she described in court as abusive. Prosecutors however, produced various text messages and communications detailing the intimate relationship which fizzled out in 2016.

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