- Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is stepping down as CEO as she faces criminal charges.
- The Department of Justice on Friday charged Holmes and former Theranos president Sunny Balwani with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
- Holmes founded the blood-testing company in 2003 and remains the chair of the board.
- Theranos general counsel David Taylor has been named CEO.
Holmes, as well as former Theranos president Sunny Balwani are being charged with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, stemming from allegations that the two engaged in a scheme to defraud investors and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients, the US Attorney's Office of the Northern District of California said Friday.
"Today's indictment alleges that through their company, Theranos, CEO Elizabeth Holmes and COO Sunny Balwani not only defrauded investors, but also consumers who trusted and relied upon their allegedly-revolutionary blood-testing technology," theDepartment of Justice said in a statement.
The DOJ said Friday that Holmes and Balwani could face 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. The prosecution came as the result of investigations on the part of the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the US Postal Inspection Service.
Theranos initially came under fire in 2015 over the accuracy of its blood tests. At one point, it was valued at $9 billion, but in recent months it has laid off most of its employees and is pleading with investors for more cash as it faces setbacks in the lab on its Zika test.
In March, the SEC charged Holmes, and Theranos with "massive fraud." As part of the settlement of those charges, Holmes paid a fine and cannot be a director or officer of a publicly traded company for 10 years.
As part of the indictment, the DOJ alleged that Holmes and Balwani developed technology it claimed could run a full range of blood tests using a small amount of blood more accurately than traditional blood-testing methods. It also alleges Holmes and Balwani knew that their claims were false, and they knew that their analyzer technology had problems with accuracy and couldn't run as many tests as they claimed to run.