Who is Elizabeth Holmes: The highly-anticipated Theranos financial fraud trial began Wednesday in California, United States, with the fate of fallen top businesswoman Elizabeth Holmes hanging in the balance. If convicted of the charges against her, Holmes could face upto 20 years in prison.
Once a Silicon Valley star, Holmes had fashioned herself into the female equivalent of Apple founder Steve Jobs – a woman trailblazer in a male-dominated industry.
In 2003, she founded Theranos, a blood-testing firm intending to revolutionise healthcare. The apex of fame came for her in 2014 following Forbes’ recognition of her as the youngest self-made woman billionaire, her company’s valuation at $9 billion.
The downfall of Holmes, caught in legal entanglements, began in 2015 after The Wall Street Journal published investigative reports about alleged irregularities and problems at Theranos and the technology it claimed to be using. Allegations against the firm in successive reports over the years included fraud and misrepresentation of facts to secure millions-worth in funding.
It resulted in a probe by the US Attorney’s Office, which led to multiple charges of fraud against Holmes and her then partner Sunny Balwani, who was also the president of Theranos.
According to the BBC, Holmes faces fraud charges on 12 counts.
Know Who Is Elizabeth Holmes: Former Silicon Valley Star Could Face Prison Sentence
“This case is about fraud, about lying and cheating to get money,” federal prosecutor Robert Leach said, as quoted by the Associated Press, during his opening statement in Holmes’ high-profile trial. All eyes are on it, with Holmes having emerged as a controversial public figure and popular subject of books and documentaries.
Holmes is a Stanford University dropout and began Theranos at only age 19. She has denied all charges against her and pleaded not guilty.
“…under the facade of Theranos’ success there were significant problems brewing,” Leach added, alleging Holmes was aware her blood testers were “plagued by issues and repeatedly failing quality control.”
Reports suggest Holmes’ trial will likely be a long-drawn one with some speculation on the possibility of Holmes’ herself taking the stand to defend her case. Legal voices, as per The Guardian, say the businesswoman might argue the exact science behind the technologies Theranos was using was not fully known to her.