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One Of The World's Youngest Ever Female Billionaires Now Faces 80 Years In Prison

Claire Reid

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One Of The World's Youngest Ever Female Billionaires Now Faces 80 Years In Prison

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

A woman who was once named as the the richest self-made woman in America is now facing up to 80 years in jail after being found guilty of fraud. 

Elizabeth Holmes founded the medical startup Theranos, which she claimed would revolutionise blood testing, but which turned out not to work. 

Holmes was just 19-years-old when she set up the company in 2003, and claimed her blood testing machines could run multiple tests and diagnose diseases using a single drop of blood.

Investors were quick to splash cash at what they believed was ground-breaking new technology and by 2014, Theranos was estimated to be worth a whopping $9 billion (£6,654,285,000) - while its founder Holmes had an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion (£3,327,142,500) and was named in Forbes as the richest self-made woman in America. 

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

She was even dubbed as ‘the next Steve Jobs’ and was hailed as a Silicon Valley hero. 

However, it was not to last - and the company collapsed after a journalist from the Wall Street Journal became suspicious about the claims being made and started an investigation. 

In a series of articles, featuring comments from whistleblowers within Theranos, the Wall Street Journal claimed Theranos’ testing machines were not accurate. 

Holmes refused the claims, appearing on CNBC to say: "This is what happens when you work to change things, first they think you're crazy, then they fight you, and then all of a sudden you change the world."

But in 2018, Holmes was indicted, alongside former chief operating officer Ramesh Balwani, who she was also in a romantic relationship with.

Holmes denied the charges made against and her case went to a trial that lasted almost four months. 

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

In court, Holmes admitted through her lawyers that Theranos had made mistakes, but claimed that she had never knowingly attempted to dupe investors or patients. 

Defence lawyer Lance Wade told the jury: "Failure is not a crime. Trying your hardest and coming up short is not a crime.”

But yesterday she was found guilty on four of 11 charges: one count of conspiracy to defraud investors, and three counts of wire fraud against investors.

Holmes, who is now 37, is now facing jail time with each of the four guilty charges carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years each in prison.

Topics: US News, Crime

Claire Reid
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