(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline has dismissed Moncef Slaoui, former U.S. government vaccine chief, as chairman of a company controlled by the British drugmaker after an internal investigation found he had sexually harassed a GSK employee several years ago.
GSK said the termination of Slaoui’s contract at Galvani Bioelectronics was with immediate effect. Slaoui, the former chief adviser to the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine development programme known as Operation Warp Speed, was not immediately reachable for comment by telephone and LinkedIn account.
GSK said an investigation of Slaoui’s conduct had substantiated allegations of harassment and inappropriate contact, adding that the probe was ongoing.
The termination of Slaoui’s contract follows receipt of a letter containing the allegations of inappropriate conduct towards the employee of GSK, the company said in a statement. GSK said the allegations stemmed from when Slaoui was an employee of GSK.
In a letter to staff and reviewed by Reuters, GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said the company has been dealing with the allegations since February.
“Dr. Slaoui’s behaviours represent an abuse of his leadership position and violate our company policies, our values, and our commitment to Trust – a commitment I know is shared by all of you,” she said. Galvani is a bioelectronic medicines company set up in 2016 by GlaxoSmithKline and Verily, the life sciences unit of Google parent Alphabet.
Prior to his role at Galvani, Slaoui spent nearly 30 years at GlaxoSmithKline holding various leadership roles including Head of Pharmaceutical R&D and Chairman of its Vaccines division.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump appointed Slaoui to lead his administration’s effort to produce and distribute COVID-19 vaccines last year. He resigned from the post in January ahead of the incoming administration of President Joe Biden.
Executive behaviour and treatment of employees has been under scrutiny over the past few years following the #MeToo social media movement prompting a string of high-profile boardroom departures.