8/22/2014 6:44:50 AM
Phosphagenics Limited's Ex-Chief Guilty Of Theft
August 22, 2014
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
The former chief executive of biotech business Phosphagenics Limited, Esra Ogru, pleaded guilty today to stealing approximately $6.1 million from the company. Ogru, 39, was charged with six counts of obtaining a financial charge by deception.
Ogru initially became famous for her appearances on home shopping networks throughout Australia, according to The Australian. On television, she sold cosmetic products that allegedly had health benefits.
Now, Ogru is coming clean about her attempt to take more than $6.1 million away from the company that named her chief executive officer. However, Ogru was not alone in her efforts to scam Phosphagenics.
Robert Gianello and Woei-Jia Jiang have also been named co-conspirators in the case. Both doctors have pleaded guilty to three charges dishonestly obtaining funds for their own financial advantage through deception. In a hearing this past week, Gianello’s lawyers claimed that their client committed the crimes because he believed that the funds were going to help sick children.
Ogru allegedly submitted false invoices to the company, as well as its subsidiary, Vital Health Sciences. She filed invoices that totaled approximately $5.6 million, and sought reimbursement for $546,000 in credit card expenses. The invoices began going out in 2004, and Ogru continued to submit them over the course of a decade.
Ogru resigned from her position at Phosphagenics last year as soon as an internal investigation began. Prior to the charges being brought against her, Ogru had already agreed to a settlement that would return the lost money to the company. She had allegedly been putting the money toward residential properties throughout the Melbourne area. Ogru will make an appearance in court on Aug. 29.
Phosphagenics is a Melbourne-based biotechnology company, established in 1993. Phosphagenics’ core technology is built around the science and application of the TPM delivery system, a unique system enables transdermal delivery of pharmaceutical actives and enhances dermal delivery of pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical and nutraceutical actives.
The company has just completed a study on its oxymorphone patch. Oxymorphone, an opioid drug, is around seven times more potent than morphine and could provide an effective form of relief to patients. The current market for oxymorphone in tablet form is $600 million. Through its research and studies, Phosphagenics has found its oxymorphone patch to be well tolerated in patients thus far.
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