The Australian Biotech Star Who Stole Millions And Spent It On Clothes, Travel And Jewellery

Getty/Adam Berry

Molecular biologist Esra Ogru had it all with a top job and a bright future.

She was a well-regarded academic and the CEO of Phosphagenics, an ASX-listed company with world leading technology on the way drugs are delivered to the parts of the body needing medicine.

But somewhere along the line she, and two others, starting taking money from her employer by submitting fake invoices and credit card claims for work never done.

The sums involve up to $6 million. Personally she received $3.9 million and she spent it on travel, clothes, jewellery and mortgage payments over nine years.

Dr Ogru, aged 39, who pleaded guilty to seven charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception from Phosphagenics, has been jailed for six years.

Victorian County Court Judge Felicity Hampel said Ogru was motivated by greed.

Ogru continued taking money after her daughter was born in 2008 with a genetic condition. Ogru used her knowledge and connections to identify a drug which stopped her baby’s condition deteriorating.

However, the judge said Ogru’s pattern of spending showed similar trends before and after the birth.

Ogru, as CEO, would sign off on invoices provided by co-accused and academic Robert Gianello.

Another co-accused, Woei-Jia Jiang, would create false invoices for a fee.

Gianello was jailed for four years, with a non-parole period of two years, and Jiang was jailed for two years and six months with a non-parole period of 12 months.

Judge Hampel set a non-parole period of two years for Ogru.

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