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‘Hated' Drug Company Head Arrested by FBI

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Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager under fire for buying a pharmaceutical company and hiking prices of a life-saving drug, is escorted by law enforcement agents after being taken into custody Thursday. (AP)
Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager under fire for buying a pharmaceutical company and hiking prices of a life-saving drug, is escorted by law enforcement agents after being taken into custody Thursday. (AP)

A U.S. businessman once described as the "most hated man in America" was arrested Thursday.

Martin Shkreli was arrested at his New York City apartment, said federal prosecutor Robert Capers.

Shkreli, 32, heads New York-based Turing Pharmaceuticals.

He and his company were criticized earlier this year after raising the price of a drug used by patients with AIDS and forms of cancer. The price of the drug 'Daraprim' increased from $13.50 a pill to $700 a pill. The drug is used all over the world, including Africa.

The BBC described him as the "the worst man in America."

After the price increase, American presidential candidate Bernie Sanders rejected a $2,700 donation from Shkreli. The Sanders campaign instead gave the money to an AIDS clinic.

A spokesman for Sanders said the presidential campaign would not keep money "from this poster boy for drug company greed."

After the criticism, Shkreli agreed to reduce the price of the cancer/AIDS drug. But recent reports by Forbes and other news organizations said Shkreli has since changed his mind about lowering the price.

Capers, the federal prosecutor, said Shkreli's arrest Thursday related to his previous work as a hedge fund manager and head of another drug company. It is not related to the controversy over drug pricing, he said.

Shkreli headed the drug firm Retrophin until last year. Capers said that Shkreli used that company to pay off "his own personal debts."

Shkreli owed the money to clients of MSMB, a hedge fund he ran, Capers said.

Capers said Shkreli tried to make the payments seem legitimate. He did so by listing them as payments for consulting work.

But Capers said no consulting work had been done. Also arrested Thursday was one of Shkreli's attorneys, Capers said.

Retrophin filed a lawsuit against Shkreli earlier this year. It had removed him as its chief executive in 2014.

In the lawsuit, Retrophin said: "Shkreli used his control over Retrophin to enrich himself, and to pay off claims of MSMB investors, who he had defrauded."

Shkreli has denied the charges in the Retrophin lawsuit. Neither he nor his attorneys have commented about his arrest.

I'm Jim Tedder.

This report appeared on VOANews.com. Bruce Alpert adapted the story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or share your views on our Facebook Page.

Words in This Story

prosecutor - n. a lawyer who represents the side in a court case that accuses a person of a crime and who tries to prove that the person is guilty

postor boy - n. a person who represents a human characteristic human character

greed - n. a selfish desire to have more of something, mainly money

hedge fund - n. a group of investors who take financial risks together in order to try to earn a lot of money

controversy - n. argument that involves many people who strongly disagree about something

legitimate - n. allowed according to rules or laws

consulting - adj. to give professional advice to a person, organization, or company for a fee

enrich - v. to make someone rich or richer

defraud - v. to trick or cheat someone

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