Martin Shkreli Pleads The Fifth To Everything, Even When Asked About Wu-Tang Clan

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 1.16.29 PMLike a small child who refuses to eat his dinner but remains steadfast at his seat until his parents finally relent and let him go to his room, controversial pharmaceuticals investor Martin Shkreli — best known for jacking up the price of an important HIV treatment by 5,400% in a single day — sat before a Congressional panel this morning and repeatedly cited his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, even when it involved his expensive taste in hip-hop.

The House Oversight Committee called Shkreli to testify this morning in its hearing on the prescription drug market, but not only did the impish hedge-funder-turned-pharma CEO not offer any prepared statement before the panel, he refused to answer any questions.

Well, he did technically answer one question, confirming the pronunciation of his last name.

When it became clear that Shkreli, who rolled his eyes, played with his pencil, and smirked through the farce, was merely going to wait out the committee members, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina pointed out to him that Shkreli’s decision to plead the Fifth didn’t make much sense.

Though the now-former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals was arrested in December on securities fraud charges, that matter is unrelated to the questions he was being asked by this morning’s panel.

“I’m vexed,” said Gowdy about Shkreli. “I don’t think he’s under indictment for the subject matter of this hearing, so the Fifth Amendment actually doesn’t apply to answers that are not reasonably calculated to expose you to incrimination. And even if it did apply, he’s welcome to wave it.”

Gowdy then referred to other interviews that Shkreli has given, where “he didn’t have to be prodded to talk,” and how he “doesn’t have to be prodded to Tweet a whole lot or to show us his life on that little webcam he’s got.”

The Congressman offered Shkreli the opportunity to “educate Congress” on the issue of drug pricing, and if he didn’t want to do that, Gowdy invited him to discuss his purchase of a $2 million Wu-Tang clan album.

“Wu-Tang… is that the name of the group?” asked Gowdy.

In an amazing bit of absurdist theater, Shkreli then conferred with a man — presumably his attorney — for nearly 10 seconds before once again pleading his Fifth Amendment rights.

“I am stunned,” said Gowdy, “that a conversation about an album that he purchased could possibly subject him to incrimination.

For those who don’t understand the Wu-Tang related hubbub, last year the group decided that, rather than release their latest album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, in a traditional format, they would auction off the record to the highest bidder, who could then make it available for free if they chose to. Though Shkreli won the auction in the spring of 2015, it wasn’t until later in the year — after he’d made headlines for jacking up the price of Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750 — that the public learned he’d been the winning bidder. Wu-Tang, which knew nothing about Shkreli at the time of the auction, has subsequently said it has donated a portion of the money received from the auction to benefit charities.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.