San Jose, Khalif. Theranos has sent files claiming the health care company has “the highest levels of accuracy” to prominent investors, including billionaire Rupert Murdoch, according to court testimony on Tuesday.
Elizabeth Holmes once had some of America’s most powerful business leaders back her startup Theranos. These discoveries came to light in the seventh week of Holmes’ criminal fraud trial in San Jose.
Daniel Edelin, a former project manager hired by Holmes’ brother Christian, testified that he would prepare volumes on Theranos to send to investors “based on an approved checklist of items,” adding, “Elizabeth asked for their review.” Once Holmes approved it, Edelin testified, he would send the volumes to investors.
The jurors were shown the investment document that was sent to Murdoch, who invested $125 million in Theranos. One section of the link read: “Theranos offers tests of the highest accuracy.” Another department said the blood test technology “generates much higher safety data than is currently possible”.
Although the Fox and News Corp founder lost his investment in Theranos, it had no significant impact on Murdoch’s overall wealth. Today, his fortune is estimated at $9.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
In an email from January 2015, Holmes wrote to Murdoch: “It was great to have you here today. So I look forward to the opportunity to continue our conversations, including one day a more detailed conversation on China… [It] It will be an honor to be a part of our company.”
Murdoch replied, “Thank you, Elizabeth. I enjoyed every minute. Do you have blood results? See you soon, Robert.”
The next day, a Theranos scientist emailed Murdoch’s blood test results to Edlin and Daniel Young, Theranos’ vice president. “The CO2 runs earlier than usual, so it’s a bit high… what do you want to do with it?” The world wrote in a letter. “We don’t have a sample to restart since it was a short draw.” Edlin testified that they were unable to retake the test because they had not drawn enough blood from Murdoch.
Holmes has earned more than $900 million from investors over the course of a decade. Her healthcare company promised hundreds of tests with a drop or two of blood. But in 2015, former Wall Street Journal reporter John Carrillo published a series of investigative reports revealing the inaccuracy of blood tests.
“I remember that the investment folders were sent to [Murdoch]Edlin said.
“Have you had a role in preparing or sending these investment folders?” asked John Bostic, Assistant US Attorney.
“I don’t remember,” Edelyn said.
Murdoch is on the list of potential witnesses to testify to the government. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Prosecutors also questioned Edlin about Holmes’ romance with Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the company’s president and chief operating officer and second in command.
“I’ve been to meetings where Sunny said he’d go down with Elizabeth on certain things and generally Elizabeth was the CEO,” Edlin said. “She had some kind of final decision-making power.”
According to unearthed court documents provided by Holmes’ lawyers, part of her defense strategy may be blaming Balwani, who will be tried separately next year. Holmes’ defense attorneys claim that al-Balwani was controlling and manipulating Holmes, both physically and mentally. Al-Balwani categorically denied these allegations.
Holmes and Balwani have not disclosed their relationship to numerous investors, board members, and employees of Theranos. Edlin testified that he first heard about the couple being romantically involved while at Duke University with Holmes’ brother.
“And when you were at the company, did you know they were in a relationship?” Bostick asked.
“Yes,” said Edlin.
Was Mrs. Holmes living with Mr. Balwani at that time? Bostick asked.
“Yes,” said Edlin.
“During those interactions, was there anything that came to your mind about the way Mrs. Holmes and Mr. Balwani acted together?” Bostick asked.
It’s always been a cozy place outside of work,” said Edlin. “He didn’t really discuss work. He was more relaxed and social.”
Edline’s testimony continues Wednesday.