Trial begins for former pharma exec dubbed 'most hated man in America' Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli arrives for a hearing in New York.
Martin Shkreli arrives for a hearing in New York.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive dubbed "the most hated man in America" for his astronomical price hikes on an AIDS treatment, arrived Monday (June 26) at a federal court to face fraud charges.

Shkreli, 34, who rose to infamy after raising the price of HIV drug Daraprim from $13.50 ($18.74) a pill to $750 ($1,041), 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 scrutinising 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 Monday before Judge Kiyo Matsumoto. The trial is expected to last about a month.


Shkreli allegedly used $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 cancellation of an appearance at the University of California at Davis.