Conflicts alleged in SA case
The former CEO of BioSA has gone on trial in the Adelaide District Court.
Jurgen Michaelis, 60, is accused of failing to disclose a conflict of interest to a former South Australian government minister.
Prosecutor Peter Longson said the case will focus on a document Dr Michaelis gave to then-innovation minister Tom Kenyon during a meeting in mid-June 2012.
BioSA was formed to foster start-up biotech companies.
The document asks for $12 million for the purchase and refurbishment of a new building, including $5 million to relocate biotech company Nano-Nouvelle from Queensland to South Australia.
The court heard Dr Michaelis had a vested interest in that company.
“In the minute of 13 June 2012 to Minister Kenyon, it states that Dr Michaelis was chairman of Nano-Nouvelle,” Mr Longson told the court.
“What is not stated in the minute, what was not disclosed to the minister or to the board of BioSA or to the register of conflict of interests, was that Dr Michaelis held an equitable interest in Nano-Nouvelle by his beneficial interest in the Michaelis Family Trust which had invested in the … fund.”
The court heard Dr Michaelis regularly absented himself from BioSA board meetings when they covered investment in the company, to avoid any conflict of interest.
Mr Longson said the proposal to bring Nano-Nouvelle to South Australia “was not without merit” and “something that was supported and probably a very good idea”.
There was no detriment to the public and Dr Michaelis did not benefit, but “that doesn't matter”, the prosecutor said.
“The prosecution case is … influence; the influence being the provision of the minute to the minister on 13 June to secure the funding for the relocation of Nano-Nouvelle to South Australia — whether it is $5 million or $50 is not the point — with the intention of securing a benefit for himself by his beneficial interest in the trust.”
BioSA is now known as TechinSA.