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Unilife vows to boost internal controls following probe

Conference call for investors slated for Nov. 2

An internal investigation by York County-based Unilife Corp. turned up little in terms of financial damage, but acknowledged weak controls, poor communication and ineffective risk management under previous leadership at the company.

In filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including an annual report, Unilife disclosed a summary of the investigation, which was completed Oct. 7.

Other than a $62,000 loan payment tied to Jim Bosnjak, former chairman of the board, and about $88,000 in unreimbursed personal expenses paid to former CEO Alan Shortall, the investigation did not find any financial damage to the company.

The investigation also confirmed that the company did not have an effective control environment, risk assessment process, information and communication process, and monitoring activities under the oversight of its board and leadership of Shortall.

Shortall, who founded the Conewago Township-based company, resigned in March. Bosnjak resigned in August 2015.

“The company is committed to remediating the material weaknesses as promptly as possible,” Unilife said in an SEC filing, which laid out several steps to boost internal controls. The steps include enhanced training and stronger oversight of financial reporting.

Unilife, which develops injectable drug-delivery systems, also said in the filing that it will continue to cooperate fully with the SEC in its ongoing investigation. A Unilife spokesman said no further internal actions are needed.

A spokesman for the SEC declined to comment on the investigation.

The biotech company also is facing a number of lawsuits, including class-action cases that blame stock losses on Unilife mismanagement and deceptive practices.

In July, Unilife named John Ryan as the company’s CEO. Restructuring efforts, meanwhile, have cut the company’s workforce to about 140 people between York County and an office in King of Prussia. Last summer, the company had about 270 employees.

Ryan said in a news release today that he hopes the company can now focus its strategy of growing its wearable-injector program.

“We are building an organization on a foundation of integrity, accountability and operational discipline,” Ryan said. “We have implemented rigorous operating practices to reduce cash burn, and we have the right pieces in place to build value for shareholders, customers and partners.”

A conference call for shareholders is slated for 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Investors are already bullish on the news. Shares of the company’s stock, which are traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol UNIS, were trading as high as 80 percent above Friday’s closing price in early stock market action.

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