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Elizabeth Holmes passes the buck for Theranos’s failings during final day of testimony

Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes closed her fraud trial testimony by blaming any misleading comments she’d made to investors on what company experts had told her.   

Holmes, 37, she spent her final day on the stand trying to drive home the argument that she didn’t intend to mislead investors and instead relied on expert feedback to glean information on company prospects.

Explaining why she’d made false statements she claimed were just honest mistakes, Holmes told jurors: ‘I wanted to convey the impact. 

‘I wanted to talk about what this company could do a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now. They weren’t interested in today or tomorrow or next month — they were interested in what kind of change we could make.’ 

Echoing that claim, defense lawyer Lance Wade added: ‘Theranos didn’t see mistakes as crimes. They saw them as part of the path to success.’

Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes claimed during her final day of testimony on December 8 that the deceiving comments she made about the company were based on feedback from experts

Prosecutor Robert Leach sought to remind Holmes of investors who’d been duped by false claims of Theranos’ blood-testing capabilities.

He asked: ‘You understand they were entitled to truthful answers about Theranos’s capabilities?’

She answered: ‘Of course.’   

Wednesday repeatedly saw Holmes try to shun the blame for the blood-testing company’s spectacular failure, which saw high profile investors duped into pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the firm.  

But on Wednesday, Holmes also admitted that the ‘buck’ stopped with her and that she was responsible for managing the company as its chief executive, the New York Times reported.

Holmes’ comments Wednesday brought an end to hours of testimony, during which she presented herself as a domestic assault victim who was controlled by ex-boyfriend Sunny Balwani.

Her trial in San Jose, California, also heard how the former Silicon Valley wunderkind’s lavish lifestyle and hunger for fame fueled the fraud.

The 37-year-old’s reputation as a high-flying successful tech mogul began to unravel, as did her luxury lifestyle, after she was accused of defrauding investors and patients. 

Prosecutors alleged she did so by failing to deliver on a promise to revolutionize health care with a technology that was supposed to be able to detect a wide range of diseases with just a few drops of blood. 

Holmes currently faces nine counts of wires fraud, and two of conspiracy, and could face 20 years in prison if convicted.

She spent her last day on the stand trying to persuade jurors that she did not intentionally deceive investors.

Prosecutors alleged Holmes defrauded investors by failing to deliver on a promise to revolutionize health care with a technology at Theranos that was supposed to be able to detect a wide range of diseases with just a few drops of blood

Prosecutors alleged Holmes defrauded investors by failing to deliver on a promise to revolutionize health care with a technology at Theranos that was supposed to be able to detect a wide range of diseases with just a few drops of blood

She told her defense attorney during questioning that investors took a long-term approach to their investment strategies. 

‘They weren’t interested in today or tomorrow or next month,’ she said. ‘They were interested in what kind of change we could make.’ 

The defense rested its case Wednesday, and closing arguments are set to begin December 16.

Jurors will then begin deliberating Holmes’ fate. 

Last week, Holmes tearfully told court how Balwani, 56, abused, controlled and raped her during their 12 year relationship, which ended in 2016. 

‘He would force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he would say that he wanted me to know he still loved me,’ said Holmes, in tears.

In court, Holmes  accused Balwani (pictured) of being abusive and controlling, and forcing her to have sex against her will during their 12 year relationship, which ended in 2016

In court, Holmes  accused Balwani (pictured) of being abusive and controlling, and forcing her to have sex against her will during their 12 year relationship, which ended in 2016

Pictured: Holmes is seen with her ex Balwani, the company's chief operating officer, in 2015

Pictured: Holmes is seen with her ex Balwani, the company’s chief operating officer, in 2015

Since the trial began in September, jurors in San Jose have heard evidence that prosecutors say proves Holmes defrauded investors between 2010 and 2015 and deceived patients once Theranos began making its tests commercially available, including through a partnership with Walgreens.

Prosecutors during opening statements said Holmes turned to fraud after pharmaceutical companies lost interest in the Theranos technology.

Conversely, her attorneys told jurors that Holmes was simply a young, hardworking entrepreneur whose company failed.

Holmes has testified that she believed Theranos could have achieved its goal of a miniaturized device that would make diagnostic testing cheaper and more accessible, pointing to positive results from early work with drugmakers including Pfizer Inc.

Pictured: Holmes became emotional as she was asked to read romantic texts between herself and Balwani during cross examination by prosecutor Robert Leach at Robert F. Peckham U.S. Courthouse during her trial, in San Jose, California, in this courtroom sketch on November 30

Pictured: Holmes became emotional as she was asked to read romantic texts between herself and Balwani during cross examination by prosecutor Robert Leach at Robert F. Peckham U.S. Courthouse during her trial, in San Jose, California, in this courtroom sketch on November 30

She also said plans to place Theranos devices in Walgreens stores hit regulatory and logistical challenges.

During the trial, jurors also have heard testimony from more than two dozen prosecution witnesses, including patients and investors who prosecutors have said Holmes deceived.  

Holmes (center) walks with her mother Noel Holmes (left) and her partner Billy Evans (right) as they arrive for Elizabeth Holmes’s trial at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on December 07 in San Jose, California

During Tuesday’s testimony, she buckled under cross-examination as she admitted misleading a journalist about her company’s capabilities – and claimed she’d forgotten breaking news of huge successes to investors. 

Holmes admitted during cross-examination that she’d misled a Fortune magazine writer who wrote a 2014 piece claiming Theranos was offering 200 blood diagnostic tests, and was on the verge of offering 1,000 such examinations.

Asked  by prosecutor Robert Leach if she agreed that was an incorrect statement, Holmes answered: ‘I believe that now.’ 

During her final moments of testimony Wednesday, she shared her initial hopes for Theranos with the jury, CNBC reported.

‘I wanted to change the impact the company could make for people and for health care,’ Holmes said. ‘There were people that were long-term investors and I wanted to talk about what this company could do a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now.’

Balwani was also charged in the scheme and will stand trial next year.  

15 YEARS OF THERANOS

2003 – Holmes dropped out of Stanford University at 19 to found Theranos, pitching its technology as a cheaper way to run dozens of blood tests with just a prick of a finger and a few droplets of blood. Holmes said she was inspired to start the company in response to her fear of needles.

2004 – Theranos raises $6.9million and is valued at $30million. 

2007 – Theranos is valued at $200million.

2010 – Investors bought what Holmes was selling and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the company. She said in a July Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that it had raised $45million. It is valued at $1billion.

2013 – Theranos announces partnership with Walgreens.

2014 – Theranos was worth more than $9billion and Holmes the nation’s youngest self-made female billionaire, hailed by Fortune magazine.

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and chief executive officer of Theranos Inc., speaks during the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California, on November 2, 2015

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and chief executive officer of Theranos Inc., speaks during the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California, on November 2, 2015

February 2015 – In The Journal of the American Medical Association, a Stanford School of Medicine professor criticizes failure to publish anything in peer-reviewed biomedical journals. A notoriously secretive company, Theranos shared very little about its blood-testing machine with the public or medical community.

October 2015 – An investigation by The Wall Street Journal found that Theranos’ technology was inaccurate at best, and that the company was using routine blood-testing equipment for the vast majority of its tests. The story raised concerns about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood testing technology, which put patients at risk of having conditions either misdiagnosed or ignored, and Theranos temporarily halts finger prick tests.

June 2016 – Walgreens ended its blood-testing partnership with the company.

July 2016 – Department of Health and Human Services effectively banned Theranos in 2016 from doing any blood testing work at all.

2018 – Holmes forfeits control of Theranos and agrees to pay a $500,000 fine to settle charges by the SEC that she had committed a ‘massive fraud’ that saw investors pour $700million into the firm.


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