The Shilin District Court yesterday acquitted former Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) of corruption charges in connection with OBI Pharma Inc (浩鼎), with Wong saying that he hopes the verdict would “mark a definitive closure to all the confusion and harms done.”
The Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office in 2016 started investigating allegations that Wong had received 3,000 OBI Pharma shares from company chairman Michael Chang (張念慈), allegedly in exchange for helping the company obtain Academia Sinica’s research results on enzyme synthesis techniques.
In May 2016, then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) approved the resignation of Wong, who began his term in October 2006.
Prosecutors in January last year indicted Wong and Chang under the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例).
The Control Yuan in July last year impeached Wong, sparking an outcry from Academia Sinica members, who said that such a decision should not have been made while the criminal case was pending.
In announcing its verdict, the court yesterday said that evidence presented by prosecutors did not prove that Chang had used the shares to bribe Wong and declared the two innocent of corruption charges.
The ruling can still be appealed.
Later yesterday, Wong issued a statement in Chinese and English through Academia Sinica reasserting his innocence.
“It has taken two-and-a-half long years of investigation and court proceedings to uncover the truth behind the OBI case. The truth demonstrates that my indictment has resulted solely from prosecutors’ misconceptions about the technologies in question and the practices of technology transfers,” Wong wrote.
“With the OBI case being the first to be centered on technology transfers, I hope this has been a learning process for Taiwan,” Wong wrote, adding that the false allegations had damaged the reputation of Academia Sinica, and other esteemed institutions and companies, and brought him “much regret and anguish.”
He called on the prosecutors’ office to “fulfill its solemn duties in the future, namely maintaining the integrity of the legal process, preserving confidentiality in its investigation, presuming innocence until proven guilty and gathering evidence exhaustively and justly,” while thanking the judges for rendering a just verdict.
A distinguished research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Genomics Research Center, Wong said that he would continue to focus on research and contributing to domestic technological development, as well as the improvement of human health worldwide.
“We feel sorry for his anguish over the past two years,” Academia Sinica president James Liao (廖俊智) said in a separate statement, adding that the verdict “has relieved us of a heavy burden.”
Liao, who succeeded Wong in June 2016, said that Wong is highly acclaimed for his academic achievements and has contributed to the development of the nation’s biotechnology industry.
Hopefully, the verdict would put an end to the case, and prevent more harm from being inflicted on local academics and the biotechnology industry, he added.
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