Thu, Feb 22, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Wong Chi-huey cleared of insider trading charge

DROPPED:The former Academia Sinica president was guided by a stock broker to sell OBI shares on the back of a rise, not insider knowledge, prosecutors said

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Former Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey gestures outside the Taiwan Shilin District Court on Sept. 20 last year.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Taipei prosecutors yesterday dropped insider trading charges against former Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), over alleged financial impropriety linked to biotech firm OBI Pharma Inc (台灣浩鼎).

It was one major hurdle cleared for Wong, who still faces corruption and misconduct charges brought against him by prosecutors in January last year.

The Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office said there was insufficient evidence of insider trading between Wong and 11 OBI Pharma executives, who said that they were acting on the advice of a securities firm broker when they sold Pharma shares in 2016.

It was alleged that Wong and the executives had advance knowledge of unfavorable results in a double-blind clinical trial of a cancer drug, and sold the shares before the drop in share prices after the news was officially released.

It is the second time insider trading charges have been dropped in the case; the first was in January last year.

However, at the time the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office cited several issues and ordered prosecutors to reassess whether to proceed with the indictments.

The investigation into the sales of shares began in April 2016, with Wong, then-OBI Pharma chairman Michael Chang (張念慈) and other company executives summoned for questioning, which resulted in indictments against them.

Allegations of improper conduct began after Wong endorsed a new OBI Pharma cancer drug, despite discouraging clinical trial results in February 2016, and it emerged that his daughter was a major shareholder in the company.

The shares he sold belonged to his daughter and he was acting on her behalf.

In Wong’s case, the original indictments were divided into charges of insider trading and charges of corruption and misconduct as a public servant.

Prosecutors said their investigation found that on Feb. 21, 2016, a broker telephoned Wong to tell him of a rise in company share prices and suggested he sell.

“Wong was acting on the broker’s advice, which is not deemed insider trading,” prosecutors said. “The other company executives sold OBI shares on Aug. 28, 2016, after a meeting of biotech experts where the results of the clinical testing were discussed.”

However, the 11 executives, including Chang, did not participate in the meeting and it was decided to drop the insider trading charges against them,” the statement said.

Wong is a world-renowned biochemist and had been touted as a potential Nobel Prize candidate.

Wong’s offer of resignation, his second, was accepted by then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on May 10, 2016.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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