Turing exec Martin Shkreli calls fraud charges ‘baseless and without merit’

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

Disgraced pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli says he was targeted by the Feds because of his much-hated drug price increases.

Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical entrepreneur facing U.S. charges of securities fraud, has said he had been the target of legal authorities for his much-criticized drug-price hikes and his over-the-top public persona, the Wall Street Journal reported. Federal investigators are picking on Martin Shkreli because he dared to boost Daraprim sales 50-fold, the “Pharma bro” said in his first interview following Thursday’s surprise arrest.”We have been working with Twitter to get it fixed,” Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the former chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, said in an email to Reuters.

Martin Shkreli, former boss at Turing Pharmaceuticals and the guy famous for putting the price of Aids drugs up by 5,000%, has had his Twitter account hacked. Earlier this year, after buying a 60-year-old drug called Daraprim, Turing, another company he headed, raised the price overnight to $750 a tablet from $13.50. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation against Shkreli dates back to 2012 with an alleged Ponzi-scheme cooked up as he led Retrophin, but the case heated up in September as his name made waves of outrage for raising the price on his infection-fighting drug from $13.50 to $750. Before his account got hacked, Shrekli took to Twitter on Saturday to defend himself, saying the allegations against him “are baseless and without merit”. The increase propelled Shkreli to the media spotlight: Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pilloried him for gouging, and he was pulled into congressional drug pricing investigations. “’Trying to find anything we could to stop him’ was the attitude of the government,” Shkreli told the Journal in an interview, saying he was arrested because of a social experiment and teasing people over the Internet, and called the arrest unjust.

The drug is used by AIDS patients to treat toxoplasmosis. “Beating the person up and then trying to find the merits to make up for it — I would have hoped the government wouldn’t take that approach,” Shkreli said. As well as a series of expletive-riddled tweets, hackers also made reference to the Wu-Tang Clan album that Shrekli paid $2 million for – the only copy the group was selling to the public that was bought by the ex-pharma executive.

The SEC complaint accuses Shkreli of a string of abuses, including exaggerating to hedge-fund investors his investment performance and assets under management. Shkreli stepped down as CEO of Turing, the company said on Friday, a day after he was charged with securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy related to his management of hedge fund MSMB Capital Management and biopharmaceutical company Retrophin Inc.

The 32-year-old, who tussled with presidential candidates and boasted of his romantic prowess on social media, now says that behavior has been “a bit of an act.” “What do you do when you have the attention of millions of people? He bragged about buying the $2 million rights to a Wu-Tang album and shamelessly made fun of people on his Twitter page, which was apparently hacked on Sunday along with his cell phone account, he told the WSJ.

Despite the bad rep, Shkreli insists no one knows him, not even the hundreds that pour into a live stream to watch him play chess and comb through dating websites. Shkreli recently emerged as the €2million buyer of the sole copy of what has been called the world’s rarest album: the Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, which the group auctioned to only one person on the condition that it not be put to commercial use. ‘I’m staring at a Picasso in my living room right now that’s no different from the Wu-Tang box, except it’s about 20 times more expensive,’ he told HipHopDX.

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