Chinese pharma mogul amid US college admissions scandal

The head of a Shandong-based pharmaceutical company reportedly paid US$6.5 million in a college admissions scandal to help his daughter get admitted to Stanford University.

The head of a Shandong-based pharmaceutical company reportedly paid US$6.5 million in a college admissions scandal to help his daughter get admitted to Stanford University in the United States.

Zhao Tao, co-founder and chairman of the multi-billion-dollar Shanghai-listed Buchang Pharma, was disclosed by US media reports to pay Newport Beach college consultant William Singer the seven-figure sum to get his daughter into the prestigious school.

His daughter Zhao Yusi, also known as Molly, was admitted to Stanford in 2017. It is reported that her family met Singer through a Morgan Stanley money manager, and Singer presented her as a sailing recruit to help guarantee her admission.

The pharmaceutical company said yesterday that it has been “studying on the case.”

Pu Xiaoping, vice chairman and secretary of the board with Buchang Pharma, said “the company is operating normally, while the major stock holder has weak relevance to the company.”

Pu said the company had not received any request from the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and the official reply will be made through the company.

Buchang Pharma specializes in the R&D, production and sale of traditional Chinese patent medicines. The company has set up production bases across China. 

Zhao Tao, 53, has gained Singapore citizenship. He ranked the 82nd among the richest people in China in 2018 with total assets of 32 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion).

To ensure Molly Zhao was admitted to Stanford, Singer targeted the school’s sailing program, putting her forward as a competitive sailor despite there being no indication she competed in the sport, sources familiar with the case told the Los Angeles Times.

Former Stanford sailing coach, John Vandemoer, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Stanford expelled Molly Zhao in late March for falsifying her sailing experience. 

Neither Molly nor her parents have been charged in the scandal, and it is unclear whether they were aware that Singer’s college admissions scheme was illegal. 

Singer has pleaded guilty to orchestrating a bribery and cheating scheme in which he rigged students’ entrance exams and bribed coaches to secure enrollment to universities.

Fifty people have been charged in the case, including parents, university coaches, an athletic administrator and those who worked for Singer’s college admission consulting business.


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