Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old CEO of Turning Pharmaceuticals who raised the price of the AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 started his career with CNBC’s Mad Money Jim Cramer. Even then he was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for manipulation.
While with Cramer, Shkreli recommended shorting a biotech stock, betting the company’s share price would drop. Sure enough, it did. Cramer’s hedge fund profited, and the SEC began an investigation to determine whether any impropriety occurred. The SEC did not find any based on their limited investigation.
However, according to Bloomberg Business:
In his twenties, after he’d set up his own hedge fund, Shkreli developed a reputation for using a stock-gossip website to savage biotech companies whose shares he was shorting. . . . In 2012 the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) publicly accused him of trying to manipulate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for financial gain.
Additionally, according to Forbes Magazine:
In 2011, Martin Shkreli—then 29 years old and a rather outspoken manager of the hedge fund MSMB Capital Management—attracted some acclaim when he started his own biotech company, Retrophin, and began pursuing therapies for rare diseases. He served at the helm of Retrophin until last fall, when the company ousted him, later alleging that he improperly passed off legal settlements with MSMB investors as consulting agreements. Now Retrophin is taking the dispute with the controversial entrepreneur a step further.
Retrophin filed a federal lawsuit against Shkreli . . . alleging that he created the biotech and took it public solely to provide stock to MSMB investors when the hedge fund became insolvent. The suit seeks more than $65 million in damages and a requirement that Shkreli disgorge all the compensation he received from Retrophin during the time he acted as a “faithless servant” to it, as the claim reads.
According to the website Heavy:
TheStreet’s Adam Feuerstein named Shkreli as one of the worst biotech CEOs out there. Feuerstein argued that Shkreli is too concerned with Twitter and is public persona rather than research.
Finally, in regard to Shkreli’s first boss Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s Mad Money, WikiPedia noted the following about Cramer’s tendency and willingness to manipulate the market:
In March 2007, a December 2006 interview from TheStreet, Inc’s “Wall Street Confidential” webcast stirred controversy after it appeared on YouTube.com. In the video, Cramer described activities used by hedge fund managers to manipulate stock prices—some of debatable legality and others illegal. He described how he could push stocks higher or lower with as little as $5 million in capital when he was running his hedge fund. Cramer said, “A lot of times when I was short at my hedge fund…When I was positioned short—meaning I needed it down—I would create a level of activity beforehand that could drive the futures.” He also encouraged hedge funds to engage in this type of activity because it is “a very quick way to make money.”
Cramer stated that everything he did was legal, but that illegal activity is common in the hedge fund industry as well. He also stated that some hedge fund managers spread false rumors to drive a stock down: “What’s important when you are in that hedge-fund mode is to not do anything remotely truthful because the truth is so against your view, that it’s important to create a new truth, to develop a fiction.” Cramer described a variety of tactics that hedge fund managers use to affect a stock’s price. Cramer said that one strategy to keep a stock price down is to spread false rumors to reporters he described as “the Pisanis of the world.” The comment was a reference to CNBC correspondent Bob Pisani, who reports from the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. “You have to use these guys,” said Cramer. He also discussed giving information to “the bozo reporter from The Wall Street Journal” to get an article published. Cramer said this practice, although illegal, is easy to do “because the SEC doesn’t understand it.” During the interview Cramer referred to himself as a “banking-class hero.”
Watch David Pakman address the numerous investigations and lawsuits involving Shkreli