Hanmi raided in inside info case

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Hanmi raided in inside info case

Prosecutors Monday raided Hanmi Pharmaceutical, which is accused of leaking inside information about the termination of a contract with German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim to enable some investors to sell their shares of the company.

The Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office said it dispatched 50 investigators from 9:30 a.m. to search the pharmaceutical company’s headquarters in Bangi-dong, Songpa District, southeastern Seoul, and seize computer hard drives and records.

Hanmi is accused of deliberately delaying an announcement of the termination of an 850 billion won ($745 million) contract with Boehringer and leaking the information over social network services including KakaoTalk.

The country’s No. 1 drug company by production volume came under tight scrutiny after it announced at the end of last month the end of a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop a treatment for lung cancer.

Boehringer returned development and commercialization rights for its lung cancer treatment, Olmutinib, to Hanmi due to poor marketability and unfavorable outcomes of clinical trials.

Hanmi announced the termination of the contract at 9:28 a.m. on Sept. 30, but is alleged to have leaked the information the previous evening, as early as 6:53 p.m., giving ample time for investors to dump 50,000 shares worth some 30 billion won.

This resulted in an 18 percent drop in shares, from 649,000 won at the beginning of the day ahead of the announcement, to 508,000 won at the end of the day.

In July 2015, Hanmi signed the exclusive deal with Boehringer to jointly develop a third-generation targeted therapy, HM61713, for the treatment of lung cancer.

The Financial Supervisory Commission on Oct. 4 began questioning Hanmi personnel on technology transfers and how official announcements were made, and reviewed the contents of their smartphones and messenger services.

After determining there was a high likelihood that information was leaked, it handed over the investigation to prosecutors Thursday.

On Sunday, prosecutors launched an investigation of Hanmi.

In their search and seizure operation, prosecutors targeted the department in charge of official announcements and technology transfers, as well as the chairman’s office, and will focus on identifying if somebody profited from the alleged information leak.

Hanmi continued to deny the allegations on Monday and said it will fully cooperate with the investigation. It has declared that it first was notified from Boehringer about the termination of contract over email Sept. 29 at 7:06 p.m.

“We apologize for causing worry through the prosecution investigation to the people and shareholders,” Hanmi declared on Monday in an official statement.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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