Former US defense chief testifies he was deceived by Elizabeth Holmes

Former US defense chief testifies he was deceived by Elizabeth Holmes

Prosecutors have called former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis as a witness against Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes in an attempt to show he was cheated in several ways – as a military, board member of administration of the company and as an investor.
The retired four-star general said on Wednesday he admired Holmes and had come to believe in his promise that the Silicon Valley startup would revolutionize blood testing, only to be disappointed later when the flaws in Theranos technology came to light. revealed and the company ultimately collapsed.

“It became a point where I didn’t know what to believe about Theranos,” he said.

He said his initial enthusiasm led him both to join the company’s board, which was dotted with other luminaries, and to invest $ 85,000 of his own money in Theranos because he wanted some “skin in the game”.

A prosecutor asked him if the loss of his investment was “significant”. All told, Holmes is accused of stealing more than $ 700 million from investors in Theranos, which was once valued at $ 9 billion before media and regulatory investigations reduced the company to virtual shambles.

“For someone who has been in government for 40 years, yes,” Mattis said.

When asked how he made the choice to invest, Mattis said Holmes was the “only source” of his information.

Mattis, who led the military under former President Donald Trump, is among several prominent witnesses who are expected to be called by the government for Holmes’ trial. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was also on Theranos’ board of directors, and could also testify.

Mattis began by telling jurors that Holmes came across as “sharp, articulate, committed” when he first met her a decade ago, before joining the board.

Holmes is accused of lying to investors and patients about the capabilities of the Theranos machines and the financial health of the company and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. She pleaded not guilty.

Mattis recalled that he had his first contact with Holmes in San Francisco in 2011 or 2012. “I was backstage for a speech I was going to give” when Holmes pricked his finger for a blood test, did he declare. “I think that’s when I first saw the machine, a box-shaped device,” Mattis said.

The general said Theranos’ goal of revolutionizing blood testing with compact equipment had an appeal for military applications.

“I had been rather enticed by the idea of ​​a single drop of blood in a remote area” to test a wide range of problems, Mattis said. This could be very helpful during triage “if he could do what she said she could do”.

Prosecutors told the jury at the start of the trial that Holmes had made “grandiose statements” from 2009 on how the Theranos machines would be on helicopters in various locations around the world and that the company would soon reach revenues of hundreds of dollars. millions of dollars.

Mattis said he was never aware that Theranos analyzers were used for soldiers or in the military, not while he was on duty or on the board of Theranos.

“I am not aware,” he repeated repeatedly when questioned by a prosecutor.


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