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Fraud trial for pharma bad boy Martin Shkreli begins

Martin Shkreli arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court on the first day of his securities fraud trial on June 26, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York. — AFP picMartin Shkreli arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court on the first day of his securities fraud trial on June 26, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York. — AFP picNEW YORK, June 27 — Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive dubbed “the most hated man in America” for his astronomical price hikes on an AIDS treatment, arrived yesterday at a federal court to face fraud charges.

Shkreli, 34, who rose to infamy after raising the price of HIV drug Daraprim from US$13.50 to US$750 (RM57.91 to RM3217.09) a pill, has pleaded not guilty to accusations he propagated a Ponzi-like fraud on investors. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, according to US prosecutors in Brooklyn.

Shkreli generated widespread public scorn for seeming to take glee in becoming the so-called “bad boy” of pharma for raising prices and later smirking through a congressional hearing scrutinizing his actions. 

As he arrived at the courthouse, Shkreli was followed by dozens of photographers and cameramen. He was accompanied by his attorney, Ben Brafman, who defended former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn from charges of sexual assault in 2011.

Jury selection was expected later yesterday before Judge Kiyo Matsumoto. The trial is expected to last about a month.

Shkreli allegedly used US$11 million in stock from his first pharma company Retrophin to pay off investors who lost money in two of his hedge funds, prosecutors say.

The case does not focus on his price hike of Daraprim while he was chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which has become a rallying cry of pharmaceutical industry critics who have called on tighter rules to prevent price gouging.

Shkreli resigned from Turing shortly after his indictment in December 2015 after which he was released from prison on bond.

In recent months, Shkreli has been back in the news after student protests led to the cancelation of an appearance at the  University of California at Davis. — AFP

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