By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jurors were presented with starkly opposite portrayals of former drug company Martin Shkreli on Thursday, with a prosecutor casting him as a serial liar and his own lawyer calling him a well-meaning but misunderstood genius.
"If Martin Shkreli wanted to defraud these people, why didn't he defraud them?" Shkreli's lawyer Benjamin Brafman said in his closing argument in Brooklyn federal court, reminding jurors that the investors who testified in the month-long trial made money.
Brafman is expected to finish his argument Friday morning. Jurors will then receive instructions from U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto before beginning deliberating.
Shkreli, 34, is best known for raising the price of anti-infection drug Daraprim by 5000 percent in 2015 as chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals.
The charges he now faces relate not to Turing but to Shkreli's management of his previous drug company, Retrophin Inc, and hedge funds MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, between 2009 and 2014.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alixandra Smith began Thursday with prosecutors' closing argument, telling jurors that Shkreli wooed investors by falsely claiming that MSMB Capital had an outside auditor and managed assets worth tens of millions of dollars.
Smith said Shkreli lost all the investors' money in 2011, but hid the loss from them. She said Shkreli used his other fund, MSMB Healthcare, to funnel money into Retrophin, which he founded in 2011.
Eventually, Smith said, Shkreli paid back investors with shares and cash from Retrophin, using fraudulent settlement and consulting agreements that were not approved by the company's directors.
"It was a way to pull money out of Retrophin, a public company, to pay back debts that were owed by the defendant," she said of one consulting agreement.
Brafman acknowledged that Shkreli was not always truthful with investors.
"On paper, yeah, you know what, it doesn’t look great," he said.
But he described Shkreli as an eccentric genius obsessed with building a drug company that would cure rare childhood illnesses, who acted in "good faith."
"He was always truthful to the mission, and the mission was Retrophin," he said.
Brafman repeatedly called the complaints of investors who made money "rich people B.S." He also attacked Retrophin's directors, saying they ousted Shkreli as CEO in 2014 after profiting from his work.
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)