Where is Ramesh Balwani? Elizabeth Holmes trial could rake up serious muck on relationship
Elizabeth Holmes, a former businesswoman and the founder and chief executive of a now-defunct health technology company Theranos is all set to appear in the long-awaited criminal trial in a San Jose federal courtroom. Holmes has pleaded not guilty. She faces up to 20 years in prison.
For a while, during the infancy of Holmes' career, she had impressed investors, peers and the media, and often hailed as the next Steve Jobs. But now, in opening arguments on Wednesday, September 8, and throughout the trial, the government will attempt to convince jurors that she intended to mislead investors, patients, and doctors about the capabilities of her company and its proprietary blood-testing technology in exchange for their money.
The Stanford University dropout founded Theranos in 2003 at age 19 with the mission to revolutionize blood testing. If the latest reports are anything to go by, Holmes' legal team might have a trick or two up their sleeve — mostly related to the former president and chief operating officer of Theranos and her ex-boyfriend Ramesh 'Sunny' Balwani.
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Who is Ramesh Balwani?
Ramesh Balwani, who is also known as Sunny, is not only Holmes' ex-boyfriend but also the former president and chief operating officer of Theranos. The two were in a romantic relationship during his tenure at Theranos. They met in 2002 when Holmes was 18 and he was 37 - 19 years older and married at the time. They were both in China, studying at Beijing University as part of a Stanford program.
According to the book 'Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup' written by journalist John Carreyrou, former Theranos employees described him as overbearing, uncompromising and so concerned about industrial espionage that he verged on paranoia.
According to the latest report, recently unsealed court documents reveal that Holmes' attorneys may seek to defend her by pointing their fingers at Balwani. As per these documents, Holmes may claim she experienced psychological, emotional and sexual abuse by Balwani, which ultimately rendered him in control of the company and not Holmes.
Apparently, it was Balwani who invested $13 million into Theranos — the second round of investment the company needed after being launched. "The company was low on cash, and I knew of the mission and that what the company was trying to do was paramount and I offered to help the company and I ended up giving a $13 million personal loan," Balwani had reportly said. "It was interest-free. It was a good-faith loan."
And that is how, despite not having any experience in science or lab testing, he became the president and COO of the company. The two even kept their relationship a secret from investors. This is why, even though living just four miles from the Theranos headquarters, many of the employees did not know they were romantically involved. Balwani, who is facing the same criminal fraud charges, will be tried after Holmes. He has also pleaded not guilty and, according to a court filing, "adamantly denies" the abuse claims.