© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli stands with his attorney Benjamin Brafman after exiting U.S. District Court upon being convicted of securities fraud, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Al
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Martin Shkreli on Friday urged a U.S. judge not to hold him in civil contempt for failing to provide federal and state regulators with information to determine whether he is violating a lifetime ban from working in the pharmaceutical industry.
In a filing in Manhattan federal court, Shkreli said he has complied with the February 2022 ban “as extensively as possible and in good faith,” and has provided the materials sought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and seven states.
The ban also included a $64.6 million civil fine, which Shkreli said he is “so far unable” to pay. He said he intended to comply fully with the ban and provide requested information.
Spokespeople for the FTC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The FTC had accused Shkreli last month of failing to provide information about Druglike Inc, a company it said he formed last July.
In Friday’s filing, Shkreli said he never had an ownership stake or executive role at Druglike, which he believed has been dissolved, and that he hoped to raise money for its successor DL Software, which he co-founded.
He also said Druglike and DL Software were “software companies creating professional software for chemists and physicists,” and thus outside his pharmaceutical industry ban.
Shkreli became known as “pharma bro” after raising the price of the anti-parisitic drug Daraprim to $750 per tablet from $17.50 in 2015, and appearing unapologetic when criticized.
The lifetime ban related to Shkreli’s efforts to keep generic versions of Daraprim off the market.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who imposed the ban and $64.6 million penalty, will decide the FTC contempt motion. The states joining the motion are New York, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted in 2017 of defrauding investors in two hedge funds he ran, and scheming to defraud investors in the drugmaker Retrophin (NASDAQ:) Inc. He was released early from prison last May.
Today, Martin Shkreli, the convicted former pharmaceutical executive, took to social media to dismiss reports that claimed he was facing charges for allegedly violating a court-ordered bar on him working in the drug industry.
Known for his rapacious attitude, Shkreli rose to infamy after raising the price of an HIV drug from US$13.50 to US$750 a tablet. In August 2017, he was convicted of securities fraud and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. As a condition of his release, Shkreli had a court-ordered ban preventing him from working in the drug industry.
But on Saturday, Shkreli posted a video on his Twitter page titled “I’m Not In Contempt”. In the video, Shkreli claimed that he had been wrongly accused of breaching the court ruling.
The post went on to say: “This morning my lawyers received a motion from the prosecutors claiming that I’m in contempt of court because I talked about the pharmaceutical industry at large. This is not true. I have conducted no business since the ban was imposed, nor have I sought to do so.
Although Shkreli did not address the specific allegations of contempt, he maintained his innocence. He also added: “You have not done anything wrong and don’t put up with abuse by the government.”
The proceedings against Shkreli have yet to be finalized and therefore it’s too early to speculate with certainty on the outcome. However, many have already raise the question of whether Shkreli’s vocal denial of the allegations is a sign of innocence or guilt.