New York: Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical CEO who caused a storm in September by jacking up the price of a life-saving drug, was arrested Thursday on fraud charges, prosecutors said.
His arrest was not linked to the 5,000-percent increase in the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat malaria and infections suffered by HIV-positive individuals.
The FBI said he was targeted instead in an $11 million embezzlement probe at another company he once led, Retrophin. “As alleged, Martin Shkreli engaged in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit,” said Robert Capers, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“His plots were matched only by efforts to conceal the fraud, which led him to operate his companies, including a publicly traded company, as a Ponzi scheme, where he used the assets of the new entity to pay off debts from the old entity.”
The former hedge fund manager is accused of cheating investors and the company out of $11 million in what the FBI described as a “securities fraud trifecta of lies, deceit, and greed.”
He was also charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Over a five-year period, Shkreli is alleged to have perpetrated a series of frauds on investors in his hedge funds and Retrophin’s shareholders in order to cover up his poor trading decisions,” said Andrew Ceresney, director of the SECs enforcement division.
Shkreli is accused of siphoning about $120,000 from one of the hedge funds to pay for food, clothing, rent and other personal expenses.
He’s also accused of lying to investors about one of the fund’s size and performance by claiming returns of nearly 36 percent when it had really generated a loss of 18 percent and saying the fund had $35 million in assets when it really had less than $7,000.
He allegedly stole $900,000 in 2013 from one of the funds to settle with a broker who was suing him and stole more money to pay off disgruntled investors who were threatening legal action.
Also arrested was Evan Greebel, a lawyer who was outside counsel to Retrophin. Shkreli, 32, gained notoriety in September when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 a tablet to $750 after acquiring the drug.
The move was angrily denounced by US politicians.
“Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous,” Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton said on Twitter, vowing to fight runaway drug prices. Shkreli specializes in buying patents on inexpensive drugs and then hiking their price.
In November, he gained control of another drug company, Kalobios Pharmaceuticals, whose stock price plummeted Tuesday on news of his arrest, falling 53.24 percent to $11.03 before trading was suspended.