Martin Shkreli arrested by FBI over hedge fund investigation

Pharmaceuticals entrepreneur held in investigation into his time at MSMB Capital Management and at Retrophin.

Controversial pharmaceutical entrepreneur Martin Shkreli, the man recently dubbed “the most hated man in America”, has been arrested by the FBI and charged with “widespread fraudulent conduct”.

Agents from the FBI arrested the 32-year-old hedge fund manager turned drug boss at his apartment in Manhattan on Thursday morning. He left in a gray hooded sweatshirt, his hands cuffed behind his back.

Shkreli, who is now chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, was charged with wire and securities fraud stemming from his time as manager of the hedge fund MSMB Capital Management and chief executive of biopharmaceutical company Retrophin.

Evan Greebel, a corporate lawyer at attorney Kaye Scholer, was also arrested and accused of helping Shkreli.

United States attorney Robert Capers of the Eastern District of New York accused Shkreli of operating a Ponzi scheme that had cost investors more than $11m. “The charges announced today describe a securities fraud trifecta of lies, deceit, and greed. As charged, Martin Shkreli targeted investors and retained their business by making several misrepresentations and omissions about key facts of the funds he managed,” Capers said.

Shkreli, who has previously denied these allegations, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

The charges do not relate to a continuing but separate controversy that turned Shkreli into a lightning rod for the soaring prices of prescription drugs.

Shkreli gained notoriety in September after it was revealed that Turing Pharmaceuticals had raised the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat parasitic infections, from $13.50 a pill to $750 overnight.

Turing Pharmaceuticals had acquired Daraprim, a drug first developed in the 1940s, a month earlier. The news led to a congressional hearing after politicians including Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attacked the price rise.

Clinton called the price rise outrageous and promised a clampdown on drug companies. Trump said: “He looks like a spoiled brat to me. He’s a hedge fund guy. I thought it was disgusting what he did.”

Shkreli started Retrophin in 2011 and was later ousted as chief executive officer and sued by its board. In lawsuits filed in New York Shkreli has been accused of insider trading and making “materially false and misleading statements” that “artificially inflated” the company’s stock price.

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

According to an indictment Shkreli is accused of misleading prospective investors in MSMB in order to induce them to invest. Shkreli is alleged to have further deceived investors about the fund’s performance, leading them to think they had earned huge profits when in fact they had lost money.

Federal prosecutors charge that Shrekli sought to pay back MSMB’s investors with cash and stock from Retrophin. The Securities and Exchange Commission has also brought charges against the executive.

According to the indictment in an email, subject line “MSMB Capital Management Performance Estimate”, Shkreli boasted to an investor that as of 23 July 2010, MSMB had “returned +35.77% since inception on 11/1/2009.” In fact, the indictment alleges, at that point MSMB had generated losses of about 18%.

Shkreli told the same investor that MSMB has $35m of assets under managment in December 2010, according to the indictment MSMB had “less than $1,000 in assets” at the time.

Last week the Brooklyn-born entrepreneur was revealed to be the buyer of the sole copy of rap act Wu-Tang Clan’s super exclusive 2014 album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Shkreli paid Wu-Tang Clan $2m to own the one-off album. The band has since decided to give “a significant portion of the proceeds to charity”.

17 December 2015


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