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Who is Martin Shkreli? His many scandals revealed

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Who is Martin Shkreli? His many scandals revealed

From deceiving hedge fund investors to dramatically hiking the price of life-saving drugs, Shkreli isn’t necessarily someone who should be welcomed into crypto with open arms.

He was once described as “the most hated man in America.” 

Martin Shkreli has never been shy of causing controversy — with scandal continuously following him during a career that’s led him to the inside of a jail cell. 

The 41-year-old — nicknamed “Pharma Bro” — is now darkening the doors of crypto, and most recently claimed to be involved in TrumpCoin, which took social media by storm.

But what is Shkreli’s background, and should the crypto space be welcoming him with open arms as it vies to establish credibility in the eyes of investors? 

‘The face of corporate greed’

Shkreli sparked outrage in 2015 when his pharmaceutical company bought the rights to a drug used to treat a parasitic infection and hiked the price from $13.50 to $750 a tablet overnight.

It meant some patients using Daraprim would be left with a bill worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

He was later charged and convicted of securities fraud — with a jury finding that he had deceived investors in his hedge funds.

During that trial, prosecutors claimed Shkreli had openly bragged about having $40 million in assets under management. It had $300 in the bank. They went on to allege that investors had lost out to the tune of $11 million.

The entrepreneur would go on to describe the verdict as “a witch hunt of epic proportions” — but at the time, even his own lawyer admitted his brash style on social media was a problem.

“There is an image issue that Martin and I are going to be discussing in the next few days.”

Ben Brafman in 2017

The following March 2018, he was sentenced to seven years in prison. His attempts to show remorse seemingly fell on deaf ears.

Shkreli would end up being released in May 2022 — less than halfway into his sentence — but his legal battles were far from over.

A pharma ban and a Wu-Tang Clan album

While Ben Brafman had sought to argue that Shkreli had the potential to create cures for diseases that jeopardize the lives of children, the courts clearly regarded this as too much of a risk.

He ended up facing consequences for his 5,000% price hike of Daraprim earlier this year, when a three-judge panel concluded that he should be banned from participating in the pharmaceuticals industry for life.

In explaining why, the appeals court pointed to “Shkreli’s pattern of past misconduct, the obvious likelihood of its recurrence, and the life-threatening nature of its results.”

But this is far from the only scandal to overshadow Shkreli.

He infamously paid $2 million for a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album back in 2015, which was ultimately handed over to U.S. prosecutors following his conviction. Not a good look for a man often described as “the corporate face of Wall Street greed.” 

That album — Once Upon a Time in Shaolin — raised its ugly head once again earlier this month. PleasrDAO, the decentralized autonomous organization that ended up buying that album for $4.75 million, is now suing Shkreli… amid claims he made copies of the record that are now being redistributed to the public.

It’s even alleged Shkreli held a listening party that was attended by thousands of people.

Shkreli’s crypto era

Now banned from ever running a public company, it’s fair to say Shkreli has few options when it comes to his entrepreneurial career. Quelle surprise, that means he’s turning to crypto.

With such a litany of controversies under his belt, you could argue that this development shouldn’t be welcomed with open arms.

In typical Shkreli fashion, he’s now become embroiled in the TrumpCoin debacle that took the crypto community on X by storm last week. 

The rumor mill went into overdrive amid feverish speculation that this altcoin had been officially launched by the Trump campaign — but confirmation was not forthcoming.

Shkreli has since claimed that he created DJT on the Solana blockchain in concert with Trump’s youngest son Barron, but there are question marks over how true this is.

And as CEHV partner Adam Cochran pointed out, this could land the convict in even more hot water.

“Shkreli’s 3 year parole terms require him to give full financial statements, and to avoid “any self employment involving access to client money or investments” (as well as avoiding other crimes). So either he goes to jail for fraud, or he managed an investment opportunity on behalf of Barron and goes to jail for violating terms of parole.”

Adam Cochran

After years of excesses, hacks, and larger-than-life figures who defrauded everyday investors, the crypto industry has been eagerly trying to rehabilitate itself.

Shkreli joining the ranks of noisy influencers launching memecoins might well drag these efforts back to square one.