Elizabeth Holmes' Cross-Examination In Theranos Trial Continues Tuesday

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  • Elizabeth Holmes
    American businessperson; a subject of an SEC investigation

Cross-examination will continue Tuesday for Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes as she takes the stand for the sixth day in her federal fraud trial.

Holmes is expected to face-off with prosecutors again during a second day of cross-examination as prosecutors and her defense have painted very different portraits of the woman at the helm of the now-defunct blood-testing company.

While the defense portrayed Holmes as a woman who dedicated 15 years of her life to trying to improve healthcare through a less invasive blood-testing option, federal prosecutors contend the now 37-year-old knowingly lied to investors and customers about the Theranos' failing technology, going to extreme lengths to keep the company’s struggles and failed tests hidden, according to The Associated Press.

On the stand, Holmes told jurors she was unaware the company’s technology didn’t work and suggested she had been too trusting of those — including doctors, scientists and engineers — she had employed to handle the day-to-day aspects of the company, The New York Times reports.

To illustrate the point, jurors were shown emails from scientists and doctors at the company describing various Theranos’ successes.

“Our immunoassays match the best that can be done in clinical labs,” the company’s chief scientist Ian Gibbons wrote in one email.

In response to the prosecution’s claim that Theranos was secretly running its tests on machines already on the market, like Siemens, rather than its own analyzer known as the Edison, Holmes said she never told investors, board members or the public that they were using the Siemens devices to conduct most of the tests because they had modified the machines with their own “invention” and she didn’t want other competitors to steal their trade secrets.

“This was an invention that we understood from our counsel we had to protect as a trade secret,” she said, according to the paper.

Holmes continued to insist that “trade secrets” had also been the reason why the company had tried to stop whistleblowers who were speaking with John Carreyrou, a then-Wall Street Journal reporter who ultimately broke the story, CNN reports.

"We wanted to make sure our trade secrets weren't disclosed,” she testified, when questioned by U.S. Attorney Robert Leach.

While on the stand, Holmes did admit that she had added the logos of drug companies to Theranos’ validation reports without the companies’ knowledge or permission — a move she said she now regrets.

The reports were then sent to Theranos’ potential investors.

“I wish I’d done it differently,” she said on the stand, insisting that she had not altered the reports to try to mislead anyone, according to The New York Times.

The most dramatic moment on the stand to-date has arguably been the testimony Holmes provided about her lengthy romance with Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, alleging the relationship had been controlling and abusive, CNN reports.

An emotional Holmes testified that Balwani used to control what she ate, how she dressed and even forced her to have sex with him, all while isolating her from her family and others.

“Sunny would get upset if I was with my family because he said it was a distraction to the business,” she testified last week.

Balwani, who is facing his own fraud charges in a separate trial slated for next year, has denied Holmes' allegations about their relationship.

She said Balwani — who was 19 years her senior — kept close control on how she ran the business, The Guardian reports.

Leach has insisted, however, that Holmes was aware of the company’s failings. He introduced into evidence text messages from Balwani to Holmes that raised questions about the capabilities of their devices, suggesting that Holmes had been aware of the reports.

As the company’s leader, he said, she was ultimately responsible. He has already grilled Holmes on the stand about key details about Theranos that she professed not to remember.

Leach is expected to finish his cross-examination of Holmes, the defense team’s third witness, on Tuesday. The defense has suggested the trial could wrap up later this week.

Holmes has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution for each charge against her.