The former partner of Elizabeth Holmes, disgraced founder of Theranos, has been sentenced with his accomplice to more than a decade in jail.
Ramesh Balwani, also known as Sunny Balwani, was sentenced to almost 13 years in prison for his part in the blood-testing scam. This hoax saw investors conned while patients were put at risk. The pair had a life filled with fame and fortune.
This comes only weeks after Holmes was told that she would spend more than 11 year behind bars because of her role in a case which gripped the entire world.
Balwani, aged 57, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy in connection to the bogus Silicon Valley medical technology. It was claimed that it could test for dozens diseases using a drop of blood.
He was the chief operating officer of Theranos, and was in a relationship with Holmes, the chief executive until their split in 2016. This was after the first revelations about Theranos in The Wall Street Journal.
Holmes, now 38 years old, accused Balwani, a man who manipulated her through years and years of sexual and emotional abuse, accusations his lawyer refuted.
His legal team presented him as a hardworking immigrant from India who moved in the 1980s. However, prosecutors claimed that he “presented an untrue story” about Theranos’s technology after deciding “that honesty would cause the company to collapse”.
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Who’s ‘Sunny? Balwani?
Balwani received a degree from the University of Texas in 1990 in information systems.
Later, he moved to Silicon Valley where he worked for Microsoft as a computer programmer before founding an internet startup that he sold for many millions of dollars during the 1990 dot-com boom.
Holmes had dropped out from Stanford University in pursuit of her dream to launch Theranos. He quickly fell in love with Holmes upon meeting her, just like the investors.
Theranos was established in 2003 by Holmes, who used family funds to pay for her education to fund the business.
Holmes portrayed her idol Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder. Holmes’s company took Silicon Valley by storm with the promise of revolutionary blood testing technology. This technology attracted attention from Rupert Murdoch as well as Walgreens, an American pharmacy giant.
According to Balwani’s lawyers, he invested $5m in a stake worth approximately $500m (PS411m). This is a fraction Holmes’ once-in-a-lifetime fortune of $4.5bn and the peak value of $9bn for the firm (PS7.4bn).
“He kept a facade”
Prosecutors claimed that Balwani was willing to help Holmes in his lies about Theranos’s technology and maintained this façade of achievements on a daily basis for many years.
As they tried to get a conviction for a dozen of the charges, they depicted him as a power-hungry, ruthless figure.
Holmes was cleared of several counts of fraud and conspiracy against Theranos blood test payers, but Balwani was found guilty of all twelve.
Balwani’s lawyers claimed that Holmes was “dramatically more guilty” of the fraud.
They said that he had actually invested millions of dollars of his money. He never sought fame or recognition and has a long history quietly giving to the less fortunate.”
Balwani “has lost both his career and his reputation as well as his ability to meaningfully do work again,” they said. Balwani had been featured in many media outlets about the scandal, including a acclaimed television drama series.
Prosecutors demand that Holmes and Balwani each pay $804m (PS660m), to defraud investors.
Holmes was sentenced and the judge delayed a decision until a future date.