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Genesis Research director Graham Chin resigns in wake of rift with UBNZ

Friday 21st October 2011

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Genesis Research and Development director Graham Chin resigned after the biotech company distanced itself from shareholder UBNZ Asset Holdings in the wake of bribery charges against May Wang and an arrest warrant for associate Jack Chen.

Chin, who was the former vice-chairman of Hong Kong-listed Natural Dairy (NZ), resigned after Genesis Research’s announcement earlier this week that it doesn’t intend on having any further business dealings with 16 percent owner UBNZ.

Wang fronted for UBNZ, which tried unsuccessfully to buy the Crafar family farms last year as part of a plan to on-sell the properties to Natural Dairy. However, its application to the Overseas Investment Office was turned down after failing to meet ‘good character’ tests.

Chin fronted media calls for Natural Dairy when the bid first became public in 2009, though he was later dumped from the board by shareholders at the company’s annual meeting last year. He retained directorships of its New Zealand subsidiaries.

Genesis Research’s statement came after Hong Kong’s Independent Commission against Corruption said it had charged Wang with trying to bribe an official with two New Zealand properties, and was accused of laundering some $150 million through the two companies’ arrangements.

The Hong Kong authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of Jack Chen, who was also linked to the Natural Dairy deal.

The biotech company turned to UBNZ for funding after it started burning through cash in May last year when a joint venture, Solirna Biosciences, stalled as its Japanese partner opted not to put up more funds. Solirna’s gene silencing research aimed to deliver disease-curing payloads into human cells. It was turned down for additional funding from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

Genesis stock last traded at 5.6 cents on the NZX last week, valuing the company at $2.5 million.

UBNZ is still supplying milk to Natural Dairy after buying a facility in Tauranga, though Wang, who was bankrupted for her role in a previously failed business venture, is no longer affiliated with the companies, according to Companies Office documents.

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