A retired four-star Marine Corps general and former defence secretary testified on Wednesday at Elizabeth Holmes’ fraud trial, claiming that she misinformed him before and during his time on the board of directors of the blood testing start-up Theranos. Mattis was a member of the company’s board of directors during the company’s initial public offering (IPO) in 2012.
In 2015, The Wall Street Journal published an article exposing major flaws in the company’s technology, which Mr. Mattis said caused him to lose faith in the company’s mission of providing cheap, fast, and easily accessible blood tests. Mr. Mattis said he had supported the company’s mission of providing cheap, fast, and easily accessible blood tests for several years but had lost faith after the publication of the article. Ms. Holmes had not been open with Theranos’s directors about the issues, he said, and it became apparent to him as time went on.
Almost two years later, Theranos was forced to close due to litigation, penalties, and financial difficulties. Federal prosecutors accused Ms. Holmes and her business partner, Ramesh Balwani, with a dozen charges of fraud and conspiracy to conduct wire fraud. Ms. Holmes was found not guilty on all counts. Both have entered a not guilty plea. If convicted, they may face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Mr. Mattis is the most well-known individual to have testified so far in the high-profile jury trial, which started in August and has drawn widespread attention. Some of the other possible witnesses include Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon who invested in Theranos; David Boies, who served as the company’s outside counsel; and Bill Frist, a former senator and current member of the Theranos board of directors.
Mr. Mattis said that he met Ms. Holmes after delivering a lecture in 2011. Mr. Mattis also testified that he met Ms. Holmes in 2011. Using Theranos’s blood analyzers, he was enthused about the possibility of the military using them. Ms. Holmes claimed that the analyzers could conduct hundreds of different tests quicker, cheaper, and more precisely than conventional lab procedures, all with a single finger stick of blood. Personal impressions of Ms. Holmes were also formed, according to Mr. Mattis, who described her as “bright, eloquent, and dedicated.”
Mr. Mattis said that he had urged the military to conduct a test programme using Theranos analyzers to evaluate how they performed in comparison to the military’s current systems before joining the board of directors of the company. “I wanted a comparison research on Theranos from the beginning so that we could put it online,” he said further. However, no test was conducted.
Upon joining the board of directors, Mr. Mattis made an investment of $85,000 in Theranos as a gesture of support, which he described as a “substantial amount” “for someone who had been in federal service for 40 years.”