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Court filings published ahead of the criminal fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes, disgraced founder and former CEO of blood testing company Theranos, reveals her defence attorney will claim that she suffered a “decade-long campaign of psychological abuse” from her former boyfriend and business partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani.
The filings also reveal that Holmes plans to argue she suffers from mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, intimate-partner abuse syndrome, anxiety and depression due to her relationship with Balwani.
Holmes and Balwani, who co-founded the company, are currently undergoing trial charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy. The two are accused of engaging in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors from 2010 to 2015, and of defrauding doctors and patients who paid for the company's blood testing services from 2013 to 2016.
Holmes met Balwani when she was 18 – he joined her blood-testing startup, Theranos, in 2009 as president and chief operating officer. They were also in a romantic relationship.
Theranos was once touted as breakthrough technology start-up that will disrupt the healthcare industry through its radical new method of blood-testing. It claimed to having devised blood tests that required only exceedingly small amounts of blood and could be performed very rapidly using small automated devices the company had developed. However, the claims later proved to be fraudulent.
Holmes was often hailed as the next Steve Jobs — she had a habit of wearing black turtlenecks and insisting she would change the world — and once had a net worth of $4.5 billion.
Investigations by John Carreyrou, a journalist with The Wall Street Journal, exposed the fraud perpetrated by Theranos.