‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli Begins Securities Fraud Trial


By Andrea Vacchiano

Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who gained notoriety for raising the cost of the AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill, begins a long-awaited securities fraud trial on June 26 in Brooklyn.

Shkreli is being accused of running a Ponzi-like scheme between two of his companies, Retrophin, Inc. and the hedge fund MSMB Capital Management, between 2009 and 2012.  Prosecutors allege that Shkreli had lied to investors at MSMB and lured them into investing in the company while concealing ruinous trading losses. In order to pay back investors at MSMB, prosecutors allege that Shkreli stole money from Retrophin. The defense says that Shkreli had good intentions.

“Everybody got paid back in this case,” Shkreli’s lawyer stated, adding that, “Whatever else he did wrong, he ultimately made them whole.”

Although the charges are unrelated to the controversy surrounding Daraprim, Shkreli says that prosecutors targeted him for both the price hike and his flamboyant personality. He was arrested by the FBI in December 2015, months after the Daraprim backlash. He has since been free on bail.

Shkreli is also known for having an eccentric social media presence, trolling several journalists and notoriously getting banned from Twitter for allegedly harassing a Teen Vogue writer. He is also known for throwing money at various causes, from offering $100,000 for information leading the arrest of the killer of Seth Rich to buying the only copy of a Wu-Tang Clan album in 2015 for $2 million. He leaked parts of the album following President Trump’s election victory.

Last week, Shkreli spent hours live-streaming himself playing League of Legends, petting his cat, and casually fiddling with Microsoft Excel documents, not showing any apparent concern about the pending trial.

Shkreli’s trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

Follow Andrea Vacchiano on Twitter.
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