Taiwan ex-Academia Sinica head found not guilty of graft charge

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Former Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey.

Former Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey. (By Central News Agency)

The Shilin District Court ruled former Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) not guilty of corruption Friday in a high-profile case that saw the prominent biochemist accused of taking bribes from a biotechnology company.

Both Wong and Michael Chang (張念慈), chairman of startup biotech company OBI Pharma, received the not guilty verdict, which, however, can be appealed to a higher court.

The two were indicted last year for bribe-taking and bribery, respectively, after prosecutors found evidence suggesting that Chang bribed Wong with shares to obtain Academia Sinica research on synthetic oligosaccharides technology.

Wong was accused of reaching an agreement with Chang in 2011 when serving as Academia Sinica president to accept 1.5 million shares from OBI Pharma, and further accepting 3 million more OBI shares in December 2012 as payment for his assistance in the company's acquisition of the right to the technology he developed at the institution.

Commenting on the verdict, Wong expressed hope that all misunderstanding and damage in the OBI case has now ended.

"Despite that justice has been served, it does not recover (my) reputation," he said.

In a statement, the 70-year-old award-winning scientist for his research in carbohydrate chemistry underlined that technology transfer is a vital process that turns research results into innovative products.

Friday's verdict is expected to have a profound impact on ways to shed light on facts related to a technology transfer and the roles that researchers who also work as administrative staff should play in the transfer process, and on Taiwan's development of innovative technologies and industries, Wong said.

Given that the OBI case was the first lawsuit in Taiwan related to technology transfer, it could be a process of learning in the area, he added.

Wong served as Academia Sinica president from 2006-2016.

The institution, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that it respects the ruling and is glad that the truth has been revealed.

In February, Wong was cleared of insider trading linked to the OBI shares his family held, due to a lack of evidence. (By Hsiao Po-wen, Yu Hsiao-han and Elizabeth Hsu)