Taipei, April 5 (CNA) Academia Sinica, which selected the Tang Prize winners in 2014 and 2016, said Wednesday it was handing over the task to the Tang Prize Foundation.
The decision came after James Liao (廖俊智) took over as president of Academia Sinica last June in the wake of a stock trade scandal that implicated his predecessor Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠).
Wong was indicted in January on charges of corruption and misconduct as a public servant in a case involving the development of a cancer drug by biotech firm OBI Pharma Inc. (浩鼎).
Samuel Yin (尹衍樑, the tycoon who established the Tang Prize, is a major shareholder in OBI Pharma.
Academia Sinica, the nation's highest academic institute, said in a statement Wednesday that it was not "terminating" its contract with the Tang Prize Foundation, but was "suspending" the cooperative ties.
As the foundation has been maturing, it will take over the selection of the 2018 prize winers, after which Academia Sinica will decide whether to resume that task, according to the statement.
Under the terms of its contact with the Tang Prize Foundation, Academia Sinica has returned NT$10 million in operation fees to the foundation as it suspended the cooperative ties.
However, Liao is encouraging Academia Sinica staff members and researchers to participate in the work of the Tang Prize Foundation in a private capacity, according to officials at the institute.
The OBI Pharma scandal erupted in February 2016 when its share price plunged in the wake of its announcement on Feb. 21 that its new cancer drug had not met expectations in its phase 2/3 clinical trials.
The case snowballed when it was discovered that Wong's daughter had shares in the company, and he faced allegations of conflict of interest.
The Tang Prize was established in 2012 by Yin to recognize outstanding research or professional achievements in the fields of sustainable development, rule of law, biopharmaceutical science and Sinology.
(By Chen Chih-chung and S.C. Chang)