Ex-drug CEO Shkreli gets green light to appear before Congress

NEW YORK A federal judge on Monday gave Martin Shkreli, a former pharmaceuticals executive facing securities fraud charges, permission to appear at a Congressional hearing on drug pricing.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in Brooklyn, New York modified Shkreli’s bail conditions so that he may appear by subpoena before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Shkreli has said he plans to invoke his right against self-incrimination if he attends.

The hearing has been rescheduled to Feb. 4 from Jan. 26, following this weekend’s snowstorm.

Shkreli’s $5 million bail package had limited his travel to New York, prompting his lawyers to seek the judge’s “guidance” on how their client could comply with the subpoena.

In her order, Matsumoto admonished the lawyers that she “does not condone correspondence ‘seek[ing] the Court’s guidance,'” and that similar requests must be legally supported.

Marcus Asner, a lawyer for Shkreli, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Shkreli, 32, stepped down last month as chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals Inc following his arrest for allegedly defrauding investors in two hedge funds he once ran.

The House committee has said it wants to hear Shkreli discuss Turing’s decision to boost by more than 5,000 percent the price of Daraprim, which has been used for decades to treat a potentially deadly parasitic infection.

Shkreli has achieved a degree of notoriety for defending the price hike, and for a brashness that has included maintaining an active presence online, including on Twitter, even after the criminal charges were announced.

While the criminal case is unrelated to Turing, Shkreli’s lawyers have expressed concern that letting their client testify may expose him to criminal liability.

Citing his lawyers’ advice, Shkreli said in an unsworn declaration on Jan. 21 that he will say nothing to Congress “other than to identify myself and then assert the Fifth Amendment Privilege,” or the constitutional protection against self-incrimination.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)

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