A jury in the United States on Monday found Elizabeth Holmes, founder of blood testing startup Theranos, guilty of investor fraud and conspiracy, Reuters reported.
The jury found her guilty on four out of eleven counts. However, she was acquitted on three counts of defrauding patients, and a related count of conspiracy. On three other counts, the jury could not reach a decision.
Holmes allegedly duped investors by claiming that Theranos had developed a new device that could detect several diseases from a few drops of blood, according to AP. The company closed operations in 2018.
Holmes had founded Theranos at the age of 19. She had claimed that the medical devices were a less painful and more convenient way to conduct tests. The company had reportedly raised over $900 million dollars (over Rs 6,700 crore) from investors such as media baron Rupert Murdoch and software magnate Larry Ellison.
Holmes may face up to 20 years of jail for each conviction, but AP quoted legal experts as saying that she was not likely to face the maximum sentence. The twelve-member jury passed its verdict after a three-month trial, during which 32 witness deposed before the court.
A date for sentencing has not yet been announced, but the judge indicated that he was likely to pronounce the sentence after the completion of a trial against former Theranos Chief Operating Officer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, AP reported.
The trial against Balwani is slated to start next month.
During the trial, investors told the court that Holmes made several misleading claims, including that the United States military was using the company’s machines.
“She [Holmes] chose fraud over business failure,” Assistant United States Attorney Jeff Schenk told the court. “She chose to be dishonest. That choice was not only callous, it was criminal.”
Meanwhile, Holmes had claimed that she did not mean to dupe anyone, and that the company’s laboratory directors were responsible for the quality of the tests.