Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli, aka 'Pharma Bro', guilty of fraud


Eccentric former pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, dubbed "the most hated man in America", has been convicted of fraud for deceiving investors in a pair of failing hedge funds.

Shkreli, who was acquitted of five of the eight charges against him in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, characterized the verdict as a victory and called the case a "witch hunt".

In one of the most serious accusations, prosecutors said that Shkreli ultimately looted $11 million from Retrophin, a publicly-owned company, to pay back the investors in his hedge funds. Those included conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and two counts of securities fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison. However, defendants in such cases rarely receive the maximum sentence.

As the decision was read, Shkreli showed little emotion. He ran the two funds between 2009 and 2014, prior to becoming the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

His lack of remorse and arrogant public persona earned him the derisive media nickname "Pharma Bro".

That mission was the start-up pharmaceutical company Retrophin, reportedly founded to find a cure for rare disease called myotubular myopathy. Shkreli was accused of providing investors in the hedge funds with false financial statements and illegally funneling their money into and out of Retrophin's coffers.

Shkreli, 34, told "lies upon lies", including claiming he had $40 million in one of his funds at a time when it only had about $300 in the bank, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alixandra Smith said in closing arguments. Prosecutors said that Shkreli arranged to pay the defrauded MSMB investors "by creating fake agreements making it look like the investors were consulting for Retrophin, or signing settlement agreements requiring Retrophin to pay the investors, when Retrophin had no such responsibility". Retrophin directors testified that they did not approve those agreements in advance.

Shkreli himself scoffed at prosecutors online, calling them "junior varsity" and referring to his trial as "a silly witch hunt perpetrated by self-serving prosecutors".

The federal trial "exposed Martin Shkreli for who he is really is - a con man who stole millions", said another prosecutor, Jacquelyn Kasulis.

"I don't think there's anything that pales in comparison to feeling the pressure of the entire government sort of try to squeeze you and standing up to them and telling them, 'We don't think you have your facts right, '" he said.