You might know Martin Shkreli as the young pharmaceutical CEO who gouged the price on a needed AIDS drug by 5,000 percent. Or maybe you remember him as the man who tortured fans of music by sharing snippets of an unreleased Wu-Tang album that he bought for $2 million dollars by posting videos of himself listening to it and drinking a Coke.
As totally insane as that all was, in the end what got Shkreli in the hottest water was his allegedly dodgy financial practices, which resulted in his arrest in December of 2015.
On Monday Shkreli will be in New York federal court facing eight counts of securities and wire fraud relating to two hedge funds he ran and a biopharmaceutical company that he founded. The former executive allegedly lied to investors about the funds’ performances, amounting to what was essentially a Ponzi scheme, all the while losing millions of dollars over several years.
In a statement to the press following Shkreli’s arrest back in 2015, U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said, “Shkreli essentially ran his companies like a Ponzi scheme, where he used each subsequent company to pay off the defrauded investors in the prior company.”
Following the arrest, Shkreli stepped down from his CEO role at Turing Pharmaceuticals — the company that purchased the AIDS drug Daraprim and changed its cost from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
While it’s his business dealings, not his persona, that will be on trial in the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see how the latter affects the jury’s perception of the former. If convicted on these charges, Shkreli faces up to 20 years in prison.
Although Shkreli’s defence team says investors did eventually get their money back, prosecutors are arguing that a period occurred where investors were not in control their assets, constituting fraud.
Shkreli has been permanently suspended from Twitter for harassing a journalist back in January, but he can still be found on Youtube live streaming strangely banal videos and “finance reports” from his Manhattan apartment. He also has a Facebook page where he complains about fake news and Hillary Clinton.
Although Ben Braffman, Shkreli’s lawyer, told CNN Money he “would prefer that Mr. Shkreli not live stream during trial,” chances are that’s not going to happen. Shkreli has maintained his innocence since his arrest, so we might be seeing more of him online depending on the way this trial goes.