Mar 25, 2022 - Science

Trial begins for ex-Theranos exec Sunny Balwani

Sunny Balwani
Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Elizabeth Holmes tried to convince jurors that she didn't defraud Theranos investors. But, were they to disagree, then she argued coercion by former business partner and boyfriend Sunny Balwani.

  • The jury disagreed, in January finding Holmes guilty. Now a different San Jose, California, jury is getting a crack at Balwani.

Driving the news: Balwani's trial began this week, with just a sliver of the attention as was afforded to the more public-facing Holmes.

  • He's accused of the same crimes as was Holmes, which is why prosecutors originally wanted to try them together (Balwani's attorneys successfully got the cases separated).
  • And, like the earlier trial, the defense strategy is finger-pointing. To sum up the opening argument from Balwani's attorney: Holmes was the founder and CEO, so all the bad bucks stop with her.

Thought bubble: Holmes tried to thread an incredibly narrow rhetorical needle, denying the existence of fraud while also redirecting blame. Balwani seems to be attempting something similar; claiming he was a savvy executive with lots of past success, but also a naif who was bamboozled by Holmes.

Why it matters: Accountability. Not just for the woman in front of the camera, but also for the man behind the curtain.

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