Reviled Pharma boss Martin Shkreli forced to forfeit $7.4M

Martin Shkreli is already facing major jail time. Source: Getty.

A judge has put an end to Wall Street whizz-kid Martin Shkreli’s high flying ways, ordering him to forfeit $7.36million in assets after he was convicted of defrauding investors.

The former drug company executive, 34, shot to fame — or infamy — when he purchased the lifesaving drug Daraprim in 2015 and increased its price by 5,000 per cent overnight. The drug is a World Health Organisation-listed essential medicine used to treat a parasitic condition found in some pregnant woman, babies and people with HIV. 

Daraprim was relatively cheap in most countries at the time, costing $13.50 per tablet in the US and just $10 for a pack of 50 in Australia. After the price increase, US patients were forking out $750 for one tablet, with many forced to go without. 

On Monday, US District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, laid down the law for Shkreli just four days before he’s due to be sentenced for cheating wealthy investors in two failed hedge funds he previously managed. 

According to Reuters, Shkreli will have to hand over $5 million in cash in a brokerage account, and his stake in Vyera Pharmaceuticals, the company with which he purchased Daraprim. He may also have to part with a Picasso painting and a rare rap album by group the Wu-Tang Clan, for which he paid an exorbitant $2M.

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The judge said no assets will be seized until Shkreli has a chance to appeal, but a lawyer for the shamed former exec could not immediately be reached for comment by the site.

Read more: Pharmaceutical chief mocks Aussie school kids

Shkreli has been in jail since September, on unrelated charges accusing him of cheating wealthy investors in the two failed hedge funds. He had been out on bail, but the judge revoked the privilege after Shkreli famously offered a $5,000 bounty for a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair in a Facebook post.

In a recent letter to the judge asking for leniency, Shkreli reportedly wrote: “I was wrong. I was a fool. I should have known better.” It was a sharp contrast to his more confident and defiant earlier appearances in court.

The defence is arguing Shkreli shouldn’t have to forfeit anything because the hedge fund investors are claimed to have made a profit from drug company stock he gave them. It is seeking a sentence of no more than 18 months behind bars, while a recommendation from prosecutors is still pending.

Do you think the punishment is fair?