First guest of honor in the trial of the founder of the start-up Theranos: the former US Minister of Defense Jim Mattis testified Wednesday about his professional relationship with Elizabeth Holmes, the former star of Silicon Valley accused of a massive fraud. “It was so new, I was really impressed with what Elizabeth Holmes was saying”, said the general, who was in command of the American armed forces in the Middle East when he met the ex-boss, in the early 2010s.
He said he invested nearly $ 85,000 in the start-up, adding that it was a significant sum for him, and he was on the board of directors of Theranos from 2013 to 2016. The company, launched in 2003 , planned to produce diagnostic tools on a large scale faster and cheaper than those in traditional laboratories, using methods supposed to allow up to 200 analyzes from a few drops of blood. But the machines did not work, and the prosecution accuses Elizabeth Holmes of having “Lied and cheated to get money”, in the words of prosecutor Robert Leach two weeks ago, when the trial opened in San José, Calif.
She also claimed “That the US military was using (the mini machine), that major pharmaceutical companies were promoting it, and that their company was on the verge of making hundreds of millions of dollars”, he continued. “I loved the idea that we could do a whole battery of tests on site, with just one drop of blood. Such a system could have been very useful when you have many victims to diagnose quickly ”, detailed Jim Mattis.
On the list of potential witnesses, there are other well-known names, such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who also served on Theranos’ board of directors, or media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who had invested in the start-up. Elizabeth Holmes, whose fortune was estimated at $ 3.6 billion by Forbes in 2014, faces up to 20 years in prison.