The co-founder of the biotech company Theranos says she is innocent.
In her opening statement at her federal fraud trial, Elizabeth Holmes said “some of the most critical lies ever told” were the accusations against her company’s biomedical labs and lab managers and their supervision. In exchange for the access to access to the largest testing network, Holmes said the labs and managers were holding down “tremendous responsibility” and “played a vital role” in bringing Theranos to life.
“I am not responsible for any decisions made by these managers,” Holmes said.
“I am 100 percent and ever innocent of any wrongdoing.”
Prosecution’s, in contrast, said her wrongdoings were “material” to the fraud that occurred. They played a live recording of former Theranos executive Steve Herbert, who called the company’s supposed breakthrough in blood-testing a “fraud” and accused the company of lying to investors, investors’ representatives, and to customers.
“[Herbert] then testified at length” about “the facts that supported our narrative.” The prosecution added that “[he] described an IT infrastructure that was not ready for prime time,” though “these facts that may have helped the defense don’t help the government.”
“Your testimony has never been about Ms. Holmes’s conduct.”
“And again, my integrity and my honesty has never been brought into question.”
In addition to arguing that Holmes was not a subject of the fraud or that she bore no responsibility for decisions made by her subordinates, the prosecution presented testimonials from investors who painted a very different picture of Holmes than what she conveyed to the courtroom.
These investors had backed the company for its promise of investment and the company’s transformation to a blood-testing giant that promised accurate results for its customers.
One investor said Holmes “comes across” as “intense and direct” in a message when she talks about going forward with the company.
But in testimony, Theranos’ CEO admitted that she was “outgoing” while the management and board were “muted” and had a “grayer skin.”
Slightly more than 10 minutes into her opening statement, she again accused the government of “trying to introduce alleged opinions into court” in one example.
She also accused the government of not being as honest with the jury as she had been in going through the evidence in a presentation before jurors.
When asked if she had lied to the jury, Holmes replied, “No.”
Herbert’s testimony included much more detail on how Theranos changed for the worse following his tenure. If the government had only followed Herbert, it would have known Holmes “had nothing to do with” the systemic failures that resulted in the demise of Theranos, Holmes said.
Herbert declined to comment.
The jury began deliberations on Tuesday afternoon.