Ex-Theranos president Balwani sentenced to nearly 13 years for fraud

Ex-Theranos president Balwani sentenced to nearly 13 years for fraud
Prosecutors said Balwani, 57, conspired with Holmes, 38, to deceive Silicon Valley investors. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 08 December 2022

Ex-Theranos president Balwani sentenced to nearly 13 years for fraud

Ex-Theranos president Balwani sentenced to nearly 13 years for fraud
  • Once valued at $9 billion, Theranos promised to revolutionize how patients receive diagnoses by replacing traditional labs with small machines

A US judge on Wednesday sentenced former Theranos Inc. President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani to 12 years and 11 months in prison on charges of defrauding investors and patients of the blood testing startup led by Elizabeth Holmes, a spokesperson for the US attorney’s office confirmed.
US District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, imposed the sentence on Balwani, who was convicted by a jury on two counts of conspiracy and 10 counts of fraud in July.
Prosecutors said Balwani, 57, conspired with Holmes, 38, to deceive Silicon Valley investors into believing the company had achieved miniaturized machines that could accurately run a broad array of medical diagnostic tests from a small amount of blood.
Meanwhile, the company secretly relied on traditional methods to run tests and provided patients with inaccurate results, prosecutors said.
Holmes, who started the company as a college student and became its public face, was indicted alongside Balwani, her former romantic partner, in 2018.
Davila later granted each a separate trial after Holmes said she would take the stand and testify that Balwani was abusive in their relationship. He has denied the allegations.
Holmes was convicted in January on four counts of fraud and conspiracy but acquitted of defrauding patients.
Davila sentenced Holmes to 11-1/4 years in prison at a hearing last month, calling Theranos a venture “dashed by untruths, misrepresentations, plain hubris and lies.”
Prosecutors subsequently argued Balwani should receive 15 years in prison, saying he knew Theranos’ tests were inaccurate from overseeing the company’s laboratory operations, and decided to “prioritize Theranos’ financial health over patients’ real health.”
The probation office had recommended a nine-year sentence.
Balwani’s attorneys asked for a sentence of probation, arguing that he sought to make the world a better place through Theranos and was not motivated by fame or greed.
Once valued at $9 billion, Theranos promised to revolutionize how patients receive diagnoses by replacing traditional labs with small machines envisioned for use in homes, drugstores and even on the battlefield.
The company collapsed after a series of Wall Street Journal articles in 2015 questioned its technology. The case is US v. Balwani, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-cr-00258. 


Indonesia sees Saudi Arabia as ‘priority partner’ to boost Mideast trade

Indonesia sees Saudi Arabia as ‘priority partner’ to boost Mideast trade
Updated 9 sec ago

Indonesia sees Saudi Arabia as ‘priority partner’ to boost Mideast trade

Indonesia sees Saudi Arabia as ‘priority partner’ to boost Mideast trade
  • Bilateral trade rose 45% between January and November 2022
  • Indonesia’s trade minister in Riyadh last week to tap export potential

JAKARTA: Saudi Arabia is Indonesia’s strategic and priority market, a top trade ministry official said on Tuesday, as Southeast Asia’s biggest economy seeks to increase its presence in the Middle East.

Trade between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia has been on the rise, increasing to $7 billion, or by about 45 percent, between January and November last year, compared to the same period the previous year.

Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan visited Riyadh last week, leading a special delegation seeking to explore untapped export potential with the Kingdom.

“Trade potential between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia is very huge and very strategic,” Didi Sumedi, director general of national export development at the Indonesian Ministry of Trade, told Arab News, adding that it “has not been maximized.”

Boosting ties with the Kingdom would also help Indonesia increase its presence in the Middle East.

“Saudi Arabia in this case is a priority because it is a strategic partner with the biggest economy in the Middle East,” Sumedi said.

Improving relations with Saudi Arabia would also help pave the way for better ties with GCC countries, as Indonesia is pushing for a trade pact with the bloc.

Indonesia signed a trade agreement with the UAE in July last year, expecting to boost its Emirates-bound exports by nearly 8 percent a year.

The agreement, which erases about 99 percent of existing tariffs, is still pending ratification by the Indonesian House of Representatives.

In Saudi Arabia, Indonesia wants to increase exports of processed food and everyday items, including paper and clothes.

“We see we can further improve trade between the two countries,” Sumedi said.

The ministry is also looking into supporting Indonesian retail businesses to open in Madinah, Makkah and Jeddah, he added.

“Our hope is that with modern shops in Saudi Arabia, Indonesian business owners, including small businesses, can easily market their products,” Sumedi said.

“This would certainly push forward our national exports as well.”


Afghan cancer patients who died in Pakistan jail were denied treatment, envoy says

Afghan cancer patients who died in Pakistan jail were denied treatment, envoy says
Updated 8 min 45 sec ago

Afghan cancer patients who died in Pakistan jail were denied treatment, envoy says

Afghan cancer patients who died in Pakistan jail were denied treatment, envoy says
  • Afghanistan consul claims jail authorities did not offer prisoners the medical help they needed
  • Prison says all inmates receive treatment, including three Afghan nationals who died of cancer and heart disease

KARACHI: Three Afghan men imprisoned in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi have died in jail from cancer and heart disease in the past four months, a Pakistani jailer and a senior Afghan diplomat told Arab News, with the latter alleging the prisoners were denied medical help.
Afghans have been arriving in neighboring Pakistan to escape persecution by the Kabul regime, to seek employment, and for medical help at hospitals, as the health system in their own country is on the brink of collapse.
Many lack proper travel documents, adding to the increasing number of those entering Pakistan illegally since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021.
Since last year, Pakistan has been intensifying its crackdown on those who cross the border without valid documents.
In a letter seen by Arab News, the superintendent of a correctional facility in Karachi’s Malir district told the Sindh province’s prisons police chief on Monday that three Afghan prisoners awaiting trial there had died in custody due to health complications.
Taj Muhammad, who was arrested in January 2022, died nine months later, according to the letter, while Abdul Khalil died in December after being taken into custody the previous month. A third Afghan, Wali Khan, also arrested in November, died in late January this year.
Syed Abdul Jabbar Takhari, Afghanistan’s acting consul general in Karachi, said Khan died from a heart attack, while Muhammad and Khalil fell victim to cancer.
“These people died because they didn’t get treatment,” Takhari told Arab News, adding that his mission had informed Sindh authorities about the inmates’ health problems.
“They knew about their health condition as these people had come here for treatment.”
Takhari said that almost 870 Afghan nationals, many struggling with health issues, are being held in Sindh prisons.
By law jail authorities are not allowed to detain cancer or heart patients, he said.
“Instead, they should have been admitted to a hospital.”
Arshad Shah, superintendent of Malir Prison, rejected Takhari’s allegations, saying all inmates, including the three Afghan nationals, were given treatment.
“We have medical facilities, but the ones with serious conditions are sent to hospital, either to the Jinnah Hospital or the Civil Hospital,” Shah told Arab News.
Muniza Kakar, a lawyer who campaigns for the release of Afghan nationals in detention, said around 2,000 people had been arrested since authorities started the crackdown against Afghan nationals in July 2022.
“Of them, about 900 have been deported, some possessing refugees’ cards were released on bail, while around 1,000 are still languishing in jails in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkar cities of the province,” she said.
“These include women, children and aged people, and most of them are patients with serious diseases.”
Kakar gave the example of an Afghan asylum seeker who she alleged was not provided treatment after suffering a cardiac arrest in jail on Sunday.
“She was seen by a jail doctor and on Monday, she was brought to court where she fell down,” Kakar said. “She was taken to jail instead of being taken for treatment to a health facility.”

Related


US says Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty

US says Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty
Updated 31 January 2023

US says Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty

US says Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty
  • “Russia is not complying with its obligation under the New START Treaty to facilitate inspection activities on its territory,” a State Department spokesperson said
  • Moscow announced in early August that it was suspending US inspections of its military sites under New START

WASHINGOTN: The United States said Tuesday that Russia was not complying with New START, the last remaining arms control treaty between the world’s two main nuclear powers, as tensions soar over the Ukraine war.
Responding to a request from Congress, the State Department faulted Russia for suspending inspections and canceling talks but did not accuse its Cold War rival of expanding nuclear warheads beyond agreed limits.
“Russia is not complying with its obligation under the New START Treaty to facilitate inspection activities on its territory,” a State Department spokesperson said, charging that Moscow’s refusal “threatens the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control.”
“Russia has a clear path for returning to full compliance. All Russia needs to do is allow inspection activities on its territory, just as it did for years under the New START Treaty, and meet in a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission,” he said, referring to the formal talks set up under the treaty.
“There is nothing preventing Russian inspectors from traveling to the United States and conducting inspections.”
Moscow announced in early August that it was suspending US inspections of its military sites under New START. It said it was responding to American obstruction of inspections by Russia, a charge denied by Washington.
Diplomacy between the two powers has ground to a bare minimum over the past year as the United States leads a drive to punish Russia economically and arm Ukraine with billions of dollars in weapons as it fights back an invasion from Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, reviving Cold War era fears of an apocalyptic war.
Russia indefinitely postponed talks under New START that had been due to start on November 29 in Cairo, accusing the United States of “toxicity and animosity.”
President Joe Biden shortly after taking office extended New START by five years until 2026, giving time to negotiate while preserving what the Democratic administration sees as an important existing treaty.
The previous administration of Donald Trump had ripped up previous arms control agreements and had been hesitant to preserve New START in its current form, saying that any nuclear treaty must also include China, whose arsenal is rapidly growing but still significantly below those of Russia and the United States.
The Biden administration indicated that it wanted to preserve New START, saying the treaty was meant “to make the world safer.”
“To fully deliver on the promise of the treaty by ensuring it remains an instrument of stability and predictability, Russia must fully implement and comply with its obligations,” the State Department spokesperson said.
Republican lawmakers, who took control of the House of Representatives in January, had asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to report by Tuesday whether Russia was in violation of New START.
In a letter last week, the Republican heads of the committees on foreign affairs, armed services and intelligence said that Russia’s actions and statements “at a minimum raise serious compliance concerns.”
New START, signed by then president Barack Obama in 2010 when relations were warmer, restricted Russia and the United States to a maximum of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads each — a reduction of nearly 30 percent from the previous limit set in 2002.
It also limits the number of launchers and heavy bombers to 800, still easily enough to destroy Earth.


Pope condemns “poison of greed” stoking conflict in Congo

Pope condemns “poison of greed” stoking conflict in Congo
Updated 31 January 2023

Pope condemns “poison of greed” stoking conflict in Congo

Pope condemns “poison of greed” stoking conflict in Congo
  • The 86-year-old Francis is the first pontiff to visit Congo since John Paul II in 1985
  • "It is a tragedy that these lands, and more generally the whole African continent, continue to endure various forms of exploitation," he said

KINSHASA: Pope Francis denounced the “poison of greed” for mineral resources driving conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo as he began a visit there on Tuesday, saying the rich world could no longer ignore the tragic plight of many African nations.
The 86-year-old Francis is the first pontiff to visit Congo since John Paul II in 1985, when it was still known as Zaire. About half of Congo’s population of 90 million are Roman Catholics.
Tens of thousands of people cheered as he traveled from the airport into the capital Kinshasa in his popemobile, with some breaking away to chase his convoy while others chanted and waved flags in one of the most vibrant welcomes of his foreign trips.
But the mood changed when the pope gave a speech to dignitaries at the presidential palace, condemning “terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of humanity” in Congo, where vast mineral wealth has fueled war, displacement and hunger.
“It is a tragedy that these lands, and more generally the whole African continent, continue to endure various forms of exploitation,” he said. “The poison of greed has smeared its diamonds with blood,” he said, referring to Congo specifically.
“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” he said.
Congo has some of the world’s richest deposits of diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, tin, tantalum and lithium, but those have stoked conflict between militias, government troops and foreign invaders. Mining has also been linked to inhumane exploitation of workers, including children, and environmental degradation.
Compounding these problems, eastern Congo has been plagued by violence connected to the long and complex fallout from the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda.
An estimated 5.7 million people are internally displaced in Congo and 26 million face severe hunger, largely because of the impact of armed conflict, according to the United Nations.
’PILGRIMAGE OF PEACE’
The Catholic Church plays a crucial role in running schools and health facilities in the country, as well as promoting democracy.
The pope criticized rich countries for closing their eyes and ears to the tragedies unfolding in Congo and elsewhere in Africa.
“One has the impression that the international community has practically resigned itself to the violence devouring it (Congo). We cannot grow accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades, causing millions of deaths,” he said.
First scheduled for last July, the pope’s trip was postponed because he was suffering a flare-up of a chronic knee ailment. He had originally planned to travel to Goma, in eastern Congo, but that stop was scrapped because of a resurgence in fighting between the M23 rebel group and government troops.
In an apparent reference to the M23 and other militias active in Congo’s eastern regions, the pope said the Congolese people were fighting to preserve their territorial integrity “against deplorable attempts to fragment the country.”
On Wednesday, Francis will celebrate Mass at a Kinshasa airport and meet victims of violence from the east, further highlighting the issues he raised in his speech.
Francis will stay in Kinshasa until Friday morning, when he will fly to South Sudan, another country grappling with conflict and poverty.
In a first, he will be accompanied for that leg of his journey by the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the global Anglican Communion, and by the Church of Scotland Moderator. The religious leaders have described their joint visit as a “pilgrimage of peace.”


Algerian beauty blogger stabbed to death in Germany in plot to fake killer’s death

Algerian beauty blogger stabbed to death in Germany in plot to fake killer’s death
Updated 31 January 2023

Algerian beauty blogger stabbed to death in Germany in plot to fake killer’s death

Algerian beauty blogger stabbed to death in Germany in plot to fake killer’s death
  • Woman identified as Shahraban K tracked down Khadidja O because of similar facial features
  • Victim’s face disfigured after body is stabbed 50 times

LONDON: A 23-year-old woman has been accused of stabbing to death an Algerian beauty blogger in Germany in a bid to fake her own death.

The woman, identified by German police as Shahraban K, who is of Iraqi descent, is accused of stabbing her victim, identified as Khadidja O, 50 times, leaving her face completely disfigured.

Shahraban K then left the body in her Mercedes in a bid to make it appear that she was in fact the murder victim.

She and her accomplice, her boyfriend identified as Sheqir K, face life in prison if convicted.

The attack, which took place in the German city of Ingolstadt in August, happened after Shahraban K tracked down Khadidja O on social media because of similarities in appearance between the two. 

It is thought Shahraban K wanted to fake her own death and go into hiding to escape a family issue. She established multiple social media accounts to contact other women who resembled her, one of whom was Khadidja O.

German prosecutors say Shahraban K and Sheqir K befriended Khadidja O, who lived in Heilbronn, and one evening drove her to a forest outside Ingolstadt where the murder took place.

The disfigurement of the face was a deliberate part of the plan, with police only becoming aware of the victim’s true identity after an autopsy was performed, having initially believed it to be the body of Shahraban K after being alerted to her disappearance by her parents.

Ingolstadt-based prosecutor Veronika Grieser told Bild: “It has been confirmed that the accused had contacted several women via Instagram before the act who seemed to look similar to her.

“It can be assumed that the suspect wanted to go into hiding, due to internal disputes with her family, and fake her own death.”

An Ingolstadt police spokesman said: “The victim was lured out of the vehicle as planned under a pretext, and killed in a wooded area with a large number of stabs in the body.

“The accused then continued their journey to Ingolstadt, where the body was found on the evening of Aug. 16. It was found lying in the vehicle.”

Another police spokesperson told Bild: “The murder weapon has still not been found but the burden of proof is overwhelming.

“The victim was killed with more than 50 stab wounds and her face was badly injured. That was brutal in the extreme.

“It was an extraordinary case that required all the investigators’ skills. We don’t have a case like this every day, especially with such a spectacular twist. On the day we found the body, we did not expect it to develop like this.”