Moderna blindsided by investigation into former CFO Jorge Gomez, company says
It’s been days since Moderna sent its new CFO Jorge Gomez packing — after just one day on the job — over an investigation launched by his former employer. Although that probe was initiated back in March, Moderna says it had no idea until last week.
Moderna told Endpoints News on Monday that it was unaware of Dentsply’s investigation involving Gomez until it was publicly disclosed on May 10. The news, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes just five days after Dentsply announced an investigation into “certain financial reporting matters” related to Gomez’s time at the dental equipment company.
Investigators are digging into the “use of incentives to sell products to distributors in the third and fourth quarters of 2021, and whether those incentives were appropriately accounted for and the impact of those sales was adequately disclosed in the Company’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission,” according to a Dentsply SEC filing.
The company is also assessing whether “certain former and current members of senior management” used incentives and other actions to achieve executive compensation targets last year, the filing said.
Within an hour of learning about the probe, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel met with the company’s chief legal officer, chairman of the board, and external counsel to discuss and schedule a meeting with the full board, the biotech told Endpoints.
“Upon meeting, the Board made the determination that it was appropriate to separate Mr. Gomez from Moderna,” a company spokesperson said. “Mr. Gomez was immediately informed of that decision.”
The next day, Moderna announced that Gomez was leaving the company, effective immediately. David Meline, Gomez’s predecessor, will step back into the CFO role while Moderna restarts its hunt for a new replacement, Moderna said.
Despite the end result, Moderna defended its decision to hire Gomez and its swift action to let him go. The company announced back in April that it was bringing Gomez onto the team, just hours after its Covid-19 vaccine rival Pfizer named its own new CFO.
“The May 11, 2022 announcement and departure of Jorge Gomez from Moderna strongly reflects the seriousness with which Moderna takes corporate governance,” a spokesperson said. “We are confident that Moderna conducted all appropriate due diligence on this matter prior to the hiring of Mr. Gomez, based on available information.”
Gomez is leaving with $700,000 in severance pay, which is equal to a year’s salary. However, Moderna could terminate or suspend his severance benefits and seek repayment if the Dentsply investigation finds him guilty of any wrongdoing, according to an SEC filing.
The former CFO has not responded to a request for comment.