Former chief of ASX-listed pharmaceutical company accused of helping “misappropriate” $5.7 million in company funds

Myriam Robin /

The former CEO of Melbourne-based listed pharmaceutical company Phosphagenics was yesterday accused of having assisted and benefited from the “fraudulent misappropriation” of $5.7 million in funds from the company.

Dr Esra Ogru was dismissed by the board on July 1, and the company was placed in a trading halt, when it first discovered what it said were false invoices.

Since then, the company has hired forensic accountants from Deloitte to investigate the matter. Their report, which has not been made public, is said to implicate another five people in the misappropriation of company funds.

In a statement posted to the ASX yesterday, Phosphagenics executive chairman Harry Rosen said he and his fellow directors felt “profound disappointment” over what has occurred.

Regardless, he said that he continued to be extremely positive about the business, and believes “we have the appropriate structures and personnel in place to continue the development of our unique platform technology”.

Phosphagenics hold $14.1 million in cash holdings, he said, and is taking steps to recover the $5.7 million it believes has been misappropriated.

Ogru had been the high-profile face of Phosphagenics. A molecular biologist, she was regularly seen on home shopping channels personally spruiking the company’s range of beauty treatments.

Myriam Robin

Myriam Robin is a reporter for SmartCompany and its sister site LeadingCompany. She has degrees in economics, international studies and journalism. She likes writing about businesses taking risks and doing new things.