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Taiwan bails 17 insider trading suspects in BioNTech vaccine deal

Strong suspicion of insider trading, prosecutors estimate illegal profits at NT$3 million

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TTY Biopharm CEO Robbin Shih (center) has been released on bail. 

TTY Biopharm CEO Robbin Shih (center) has been released on bail.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A total of 17 insider trading suspects, including the general manager of TTY Biopharm Co., Ltd., were released on bail Saturday (Oct. 16) in a case involving an import license for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.

In October 2020, the company announced it had concluded an agreement with the manufacturer of the vaccines to become its official distributor for Taiwan. However, observers alleged irregular movements on the stock market indicating insider trading, and the import deal fell through, with an official announcement following on Nov. 3, 2020.

Following raids on offices and homes Friday (Oct. 15), and the questioning of 26 people, prosecutors concluded there was a strong suspicion of insider trading with illegal profits totaling NT$3 million (US$107,000), CNA reported.

At the end of the interrogation, TTY Biopharm CEO Robbin Shih (施俊良) was released on bail of NT$3 million, and his deputy Allen Chu (屈志源) for NT$2 million. The Shilin District Prosecutors Office questioned 14 current and former company officials as well as 12 of their friends and relatives.

Apart from Shih and Chu, 15 suspects were released for bail sums ranging from NT$30,000 to NT$150,000. While prosecutors said they had a strong case, they also said there was no need to keep the suspects in detention.