Insider trading probe into Taiwan vaccine maker uncovers wider issues
Insider trading investigation into Medigen has entangled the administration of Tsai Ing-wen
Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation’s shares leapt more than 20% in the days before it announced positive results for its vaccine’s phase 2 clinical trials in June © AFP via Getty Images
July 2, 2021 1:01 am by Eleanor Olcott in Taipei and Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong
An insider trading probe into a Taiwanese maker of Covid-19 vaccines has raised wider concerns over financial oversight in the country and entangled the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen.
The Taipei-based prosecuting office for Shilin District told the Financial Times that it is investigating Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation after the company’s shares leapt more than 20 per cent in the days before it announced positive results for its vaccine’s phase 2 clinical trials in June. The prosecutor declined to provide further details on the investigation.
Last month, Tsai gave a televised address in which she rejected accusations from political opponents that her government had blocked imports of vaccines to boost Medigen’s stock price.
The probe opens up another front through which Tsai’s political rivals can attack the president as she attempts to fend off external pressure from China.
Only 8.2 per cent of Taiwan’s population has received their first jab, and the government has agreed to purchase 5m vaccines from Medigen in a bid to resolve a shortage that Taipei has partially blamed on China blocking its purchases of foreign-made doses.
“We have done an internal investigation, and there is no evidence of the government or its employees speculating [on] the stock,” Tsai said during her address. Taiwan’s finance ministry later said none of the government’s eight state-backed banks had bought Medigen stock before the sudden jump.