Elizabeth Holmes

Judges Hear Elizabeth Holmes’ Appeal Against Fraud Conviction

Judges have recently heard an appeal by Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, challenging her conviction for defrauding investors in her blood-testing company. An appeal was also presented for Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the startup’s president and Holmes’s former partner, in the San Francisco federal court.

Holmes and Balwani were tried separately in 2022 and received prison sentences for their roles in the fraudulent activities at Theranos. Holmes’s lawyer argued that she genuinely believed in the accuracy of the blood-testing devices she promoted to secure investments.

Theranos, founded by Holmes after she dropped out of Stanford University, was once valued at $9 billion (Ā£7 billion). Holmes herself was celebrated as the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, attracting high-profile investors such as Rupert Murdoch. However, the company’s downfall began in 2018 when investigations revealed that the technology did not function as claimed. Holmes and Balwani were accused of concealing poor results from the devices, which were purported to test for hundreds of diseases using just a few drops of blood.

The scandal surrounding Theranos was widely covered, including in a TV series, an HBO documentary, and a podcast. Holmes is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence in Texas, while Balwani is serving over 12 years.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Holmes’s lawyer contested the reliability of testimony from a former Theranos employee and argued that Holmes should have had more opportunities to challenge the evidence presented by another key prosecution witness. The defense characterized the case, which ended in a split verdict, as closely contested. The prosecution, however, maintained that the evidence against Holmes was overwhelming.

Balwani’s lawyer also argued that prosecutors had presented evidence that exceeded the scope of the 2018 indictment against him. The panel of judges offered little indication of their decision timeline or inclination, only noting that the uncontested evidence against Holmes and Balwani was substantial.

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