When Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was on trial for fraud, she claimed her ex-boyfriend, Theranos president and chief operating officer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, abused her and was the reason she committed her crimes.
Now that Balwani is on trial for fraud, he is putting the blame back on Holmes, with his attorney Steve Cazares saying during opening statements on Tuesday, “Elizabeth Holmes, not Sunny, founded Theranos and built Theranos.”
The Mercury News reported that federal prosecutor Robert Leach said during his opening statements that Holmes and Balwani “were partners in everything, including their crimes.”
Balwani, 56, has been charged with a dozen counts of fraud stemming from his time at Theranos, which lied to investors about its technology for years, claiming that it could run hundreds of blood tests on a few drops of blood obtained by a finger prick when it could not.
The outlet also reported that Leach “focused on Balwani when telling the jury about problems inside the company’s laboratory, which Balwani purportedly managed.” Leach told the jury that Balwani “skewed the medical decisions patients were making and put them at risk.” Leach invoked Holmes again when saying that she and Balwani were responsible for the fudged revenue predictions used to entice investors.
“The defendant and Holmes knew the rosy falsehoods that they were telling investors were contrary to the reality within Theranos,” Leach said, according to the outlet.
For his part, Cazares implored jurors to set aside what they had read about Theranos in the media. “The headlines and the sensational stories about Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes have no place in this trial,” he said.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Holmes was found guilty on four out of 11 charges of fraud relating to her failed blood-testing startup.
“She was found not guilty on three additional charges concerning defrauding patients and one charge of conspiracy to defraud patients. The jury returned no verdict on three of the charges concerning defrauding investors, and Judge Edward Davila, who is presiding over the case, is expected to declare a mistrial on those charges,” CNN reported after the verdict in January. “The charges Holmes was found guilty of include one count of conspiracy to defraud investors, as well as three wire fraud counts tied to specific investors. Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison as well as a fine of $250,000 plus restitution for each count.”
Holmes’ trial lasted three months and saw more than 30 witnesses testify, including Holmes, who attempted to pass the blame for the fraud onto everyone but herself.
As The New York Times reported, Holmes’ defense attorneys had “argued that she was merely a young, naïve, ambitious founder who relied too much on others who gave her bad advice” and claimed she lacked experience and expertise. When Holmes actually testified, however, she presented herself the way she had done to investors when Theranos was still operating – as an expert about her company and its technology.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Holmes claimed her company could provide rapid blood tests using a much smaller amount of blood than conventional tests. Holmes also tried to blame her ex-boyfriend and Theranos’ ex-president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani of abuse. Text messages between the two, however, show a loving relationship, although Balwani had a reputation for treating employees poorly.
In his documentary, “The Inventor,” filmmaker Alex Gibney revealed that while Balwani was considered a tyrant to those who worked for him, he was deferential to Holmes and always appeared supportive of her and firmly in the number 2 position at Theranos.
Other texts show Holmes and Balwani apparently discussing how to undermine the claims from two Theranos whistleblowers — Tyler Shultz and Erika Cheung. The two also discussed how they would respond to reporting from The Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou, who months later published a damning article showing that Theranos’ machines could not perform the blood tests they claimed. Carreyrou’s reporting revealed that Theranos was lying about its capabilities and using traditional blood analyzers to run most of its blood tests.