- Since the trial began, there was speculation that she might testify against her company’s former president in exchange for some leniency in her sentencing.
Although she was a prominent figure in Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani’s trial, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes will not be called as a witness in the ongoing court proceedings of her ex-boyfriend and former president of the Palo Alto, California-based private health care and life sciences company. Balwani faces the same charges as his ex-girlfriend and has been on trial since March on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Holmes’ trial was held earlier, and in January, she was found guilty on four charges of defrauding investors for her role in building the blood-testing startup into a $9 billion company that collapsed in scandal. She remains free on bond, and her sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 26. She faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and the requirement to pay victims restitution for each count on which she was convicted.
Their relationship was the central focus of both their trials.
Since Balwani’s trial began, legal experts and those following the case have speculated whether Holmes might testify against Balwani “in exchange for some leniency in her sentencing,” Business Insider noted, adding that it’s unclear “whether she was offered that opportunity.”
However, on June 6, the prosecution confirmed in an evidentiary hearing that Holmes would not be called as a witness in Balwani’s trial, according to Law360 senior reporter Dorothy Atkins, who has been covering the case. In a follow-up tweet, She also mentioned that Balwani currently has no plan on testifying in his defense.
Holmes had founded Theranos in 2003 as a 19-year-old college dropout and was hailed and celebrated as a Silicon Valley whiz-kid. The company was aiming to revolutionize medical laboratory testing through allegedly innovative methods for drawing blood, testing blood, and interpreting the resulting patient data to improve outcomes and lower health care costs.
While Holmes was the face of Theranos, Balwani’s private influence was present in all areas of the company. That message was conveyed in texts by Bawalni as well, which jurors heard during his ongoing trial. “I am responsible for everything at Theranos,” Balwani wrote, according to NBC Bay Area. The text message is contradictory to arguments from Balwani’s legal team, “who argued he was merely an investor in Theranos during the opening arguments of his fraud trial last month,” an NBC Bay Area report said.
Last month, a witness for the prosecution testified that she only dealt with Elizabeth Holmes and didn’t even know who Balwani is. That testimony came 24 hours after Balwani told the court that he had a big role in the health care and life sciences company, according to an NBC Bay Area report.
According to Balwani’s lawyer Stephen Casares, although his client began a relationship with Holmes around the same time she founded Theranos, he didn’t join the company until 2009 when he became the president and COO of Theranos. He and Holmes hid their relationship while they worked together. In 2016, the pair split up and Balwani left Theranos.
When he met Holmes, Bаlwаni, then 37, was a married man. After selling his shаres, he returned to school, аnd enrolled аt the University of Cаliforniа, Berkeley, During а 2002 Beijing trip as part of Stanford University’s Mаndаrin program, he met 18-yeаr-old Holmes while а student. He аnd Holmes, who were reportedly mаrried аt the time, didn’t stаrt dаting until 2003 when he eаrned his MBA аnd she dropped out to pursue Therаnos. In 2005, the couple shаred а home.
Earlier in March, Balwani sold the 6,800-square foot home in Atherton, California, for $15.8 million, the New York Post reported. The two originally bought the mansion in 2013 for $9 million.
During her testimony, Holmes blamed Balwani for allegedly exploiting, using and misleading her. She told the court that what began as a professional relationship eventually turned amorous. The two became romantically involved in 2005 before Balwani became the chief operating officer at Theranos, a position he held from 2009 to 2016. They were together for 12 years.
She accused him of emotionally and sexually abusing her, which apparently compromised her judgment during the time of the alleged crimes. Holmes made the accusations during her much-anticipated testimony on Nov. 29, in an attempt to refute accusations that she lied about a flawed blood-testing technology, which she had touted as a breakthrough. She blamed Balwani for allegedly exploiting, using and misleading her.