Martin Shkreli/Twitter

Controversial price-gouging pharma CEO Martin Shkreli has been arrested on charges of fraud

Prosecutors claim he "essentially ran his companies like a Ponzi scheme".

JULIA LA ROCHE & PETER JACOBS, BUSINESS INSIDER
17 DEC 2015
 

Martin Shkreli was arrested by the FBI on charges of securities-fraud on Thursday morning. Bloomberg News was the first to report the news of Shkreli's arrest.

Shkreli, the 32-year-old CEO of KaloBios, gained notoriety in September after it was revealed that as CEO of another company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, he had raised the price of a drug used to treat parasitic infections from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

 

The charges are unrelated to those two companies.

Before Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli founded and served as CEO of biotech company Retrophin from 2011 until September 2014. Retrophin went public in December 2012.

Prior to that, he was the founder of MSMB Capital Management, a now-defunct healthcare-focused hedge fund that launched in September 2009. He previously ran a hedge fund Elea Capital Management from 2006 until 2007.

Lawyer Evan Greebel, a 42-year-old partner at Kaye Scholer and outside counsel to Retrophin, was arrested along with Shkreli. A spokeswoman for Kaye Scholer told Business Insider that Greebel joined the firm in July 2015 and "the transactions predate his arrival to the firm".

"A Ponzi Scheme"

Shkreli has been charged with two counts of securities fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission also filed a civil suit against Shkreli.

In the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York's complaint, prosecutors allege that Shkreli and Greebel orchestrated three interrelated fraudulent schemes between 2009 and 2014.

Specifically, Shkreli is accused of defrauding investors in his hedge funds by making "material misrepresentations" about the performance and assets under management. He's also accused of preventing investors from redeeming their capital.

In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, US Attorney Robert Capers said Shkreli "essentially ran his companies like a Ponzi scheme".

Capers said Shkreli used money in subsequent companies to pay off debts he incurred from a series of bad trades and to conceal lies he told investors in his hedge funds.

Capers added that Shkreli used Retrophin as his "personal piggy bank".

In the complaint, both Shkreli and Greebel are accused of "misappropriating" Retrophin's assets to pay back personal and professional debts stemming from the bad trades Shkreli made while running MSMB Capital.

The government will also "seek forfeiture" of "any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to any to such offenses".

Shares of Retrophin were last trading down 1.6 percent. Trading in shares of KaloBios stock has been halted.

Shkreli has previously denied any wrongdoing at Retrophin, in a message on a pharma-news bulletin board.

The Retrophin lawsuits

In August, Shkreli was sued by Retrophin. The company's board ousted him as CEO in September 2014.

In the suit, Retrophin, which is seeking $65 million in damages, accused Shkreli of engaging in multiple "self-dealing schemes" while he was at the company. Many of these alleged schemes would have benefited MSMB Capital Management.

The schemes detailed in the suit included having Retrophin "enter into sham consulting agreements" through which the company paid investors who were "defrauded" by Shkreli's hedge fund. Shkreli was also accused in the suit of using funds "misappropriated" from Retrophin to pay for a settlement that stemmed from a bad trade shorting Orexigen Therapeutics made by his hedge fund, among other things.

Shkreli told Business Insider in September that this suit was "blackmail" and a defensive move by the company.

Shkreli has also been named in four other lawsuits filed by Retrophin investors in New York's Southern District between September 2014 and December 2014.

These suits accused him of having profited through insider trading and making "materially false and misleading statements" that "artificially inflated" the company's stock price. One suit was dismissed. In another, attorneys for both sides indicated they would seek resolution in "private mediation". Two of the lawsuits are ongoing.

Shkreli told Business Insider in September that all the suits from Retrophin investors were "copy and paste stock went down lawsuit[s]" filed by opportunistic lawyers.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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