GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company, said Wednesday it had fired Moncef Slaoui, former head of Operation Warp Speed, from his position as chairman of Galvani Bioelectronics for alleged sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.
The company cited allegations made by an employee regarding incidents that occurred at GSK a few years ago. The decision to appoint Dr. Terminating Slaoui is effective immediately, GSK said in a statement. GSK is the majority shareholder in Galvani Bioelectronics, a medical research company that is a joint venture with Verily Life Sciences.
In a statement made late Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Slaoui “wholeheartedly to the affected employee” and to his wife and family “for the pain this caused”.
“I am very sorry for the hardship that has arisen,” he said, adding that he would say goodbye to his professional responsibilities “to focus on my family”.
GSK said it received a letter Dr. Slaoui, 61, was charged with sexual harassment and asked a law firm to investigate. The investigation confirmed the allegations, GSK said, adding that the investigation will continue.
Emma Walmsley, managing director of GSK, sent a letter to employees on Wednesday saying the company learned of the allegations in February. Neither she nor the GSK board gave details of the allegations.
“DR. Slaoui’s behavior is an abuse of his leadership position and violates our company guidelines, our values and our commitment to trust,” she wrote.
“Protecting the woman who came forward and her privacy was a major priority during this time,” she added. “It will continue like this. I respect and admire their courage and strength. I’ve spent many nights lately putting myself in their shoes. “
Dr. Slaoui joined Operation Warp Speed from GSK, where he was responsible for vaccine development. He led the Trump administration’s vaccination acceleration efforts from May to January.
He criticized ownership of stocks in Moderna, maker of a coronavirus vaccine, and GSK, which was tracking a vaccine with Sanofi. The federal government invested $ 2.1 billion in the latter effort.
Dr. Slaoui eventually agreed to give up his shares in Moderna, but not in GSK. To circumvent ethical regulations that would have prohibited him from owning these stocks, the Trump administration appointed him a contractor.
After leaving the administration, Dr. Slaoui joins a new company, Centessa Pharmaceuticals, as chief scientific officer, which is comprised of ten biotech companies with $ 250 million from investors.