Martin Shkreli or ‘pharma bro’ as he is popularly known, will be going on trial on Monday over allegedly running a Ponzi-like scheme. The pharmaceutical entrepreneur who is best known for increasing by 5000% the cost of a life-saving treatment was accused of running the scheme at a drug firm and a hedge fund that he once used to head.
According to prosecutors, Shkreli lied to investors who had put money in his hedge fund and then going on to siphon assets from a biotechnology firm known as Retrophin Inc worth millions of dollars in order to pay them back. Shkreli has entered a not-guilty plea. The trial is expected to be heard in Brooklyn, New York, by Kiyo Matsumoto, a U.S. District judge. It is slated to last between four and six weeks.
From $13.50 to $750
While he was the chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli outraged lawmakers and patients in the United States when he increased the price of Daraprim, an anti-parisitic drug from $13.50 to $750 a tablet. The charges that got him arrested in late 2015 are, however, unrelated to Turing and instead focus on the pharmaceutical entrepreneur’s time at MSMB Capital Management, a hedge fund and Retrophin in the 2009-2012 period.
Prosecutors have accused Shkreli of lying concerning the finances of MSMB Capital Management in order to entice investors. Shkreli is also accused of concealing to the investors devastating trading losses. The prosecutors say Shkreli paid back the money he owed investors with funds he stole from Retrophin, a pharmaceutical firm he started in 2011.
Part of the reason why so much attention has been paid to the criminal case is the fact that Shkreli has refused to lie low. Shkreli has continued to draw attention to himself particularly via social media where he has sometimes complicated his defense.
During a hearing held last week, prosecutors denied Shkreli a request to lower his bail by approximately $3 million. The pharmaceutical entrepreneur had argued that he needed the money to pay his legal bills and taxes while bragging about his immense wealth. From the day he was arrested, he has shown off his possessions and purchases which include a painting by Picasso, unreleased albums by Lil Wayne and Wu-Tang Clan and a code breaking machine from the Second World War.
Two months ago, Shkreli presented $40,000 to a student at Princeton University who had solved a mathematical problem. He is also on record for pledging to give $100,000 to anyone with tips leading to the capture of the killers of Seth Rich, a former employee of Democratic National Committee.