Elizabeth Holmes, the convicted fraudster and co-founder of Theranos, has been ordered by a judge to repay $125m to Rupert Murdoch as part of a court-ordered $452m restitution. Holmes and her ex-boyfriend and business partner, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, must hand over the sum to investors who were deceived into backing Theranos. Murdoch invested a reported $100m in the company between 2014 and 2015. The sum Holmes and Balwani have been told to repay Murdoch is the largest part of the restitution order. Lawyers for the pair have previously argued they have very little money and it is unclear whether they will ever be able to repay the full $425m.
Theranos was once one of Silicon Valley’s most feted startups, valued at more than $9bn at the peak of its success. The biotech company, which Holmes founded when she was 19, promised to deliver revolutionary technology that would detect hundreds of diseases and other ailments from just a few drops of blood. However, the company spectacularly collapsed amid claims of fraud. As part of the restitution order, Holmes and Balwani must also hand back $40m to pharmacy chain Walgreens and $14.5m to supermarket giant Safeway.
Holmes was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the scandal in November last year. Balwani was sentenced to almost 13 years in jail. In her first interview since the scandal broke in 2016, Holmes told the New York Times earlier this year she had been “playing a character I created”. She said: “I believed it would be how I would be good at business and taken seriously and not taken as a little girl or a girl who didn’t have good technical ideas.”
Keywords: Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, fraud, restitution, Silicon Valley, biotech, Walgreens, Safeway.
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