FRANKFURT: GlaxoSmithKline fired Moncef El-Salawi, the former US government’s vaccines chief, from the position of head of a company controlled by the British pharmaceutical company after an internal investigation found that he had sexually molested a GSK employee several years ago.
GSK said the termination of Slaoui’s contract at Galvani Bioelectronics was effective immediately.
Al-Salawi, a former senior advisor for the US Covid-19 vaccine development program known as Operation Warp Speed, was not immediately available for comment via the phone and LinkedIn account.
GSK said the investigation into El-Sallawi’s behavior, which was conducted on its behalf by an independent law firm, verified the allegations of harassment and inappropriate contact, adding that the investigation is underway.
The company said in a statement that the termination of Al-Sailawi’s contract comes after receiving a letter containing allegations of inappropriate behavior towards a GSK employee.
GSK said the allegations arose when Al-Salawi was an employee of GSK.
Shares of the London-listed company fell 1% in afternoon trading.
Emma Walmsley, chief executive of GSK, said in a letter to employees that was reviewed by Reuters that the company has been dealing with the allegations since February.
She said, “Dr. Al-Sallawi’s behaviors represent an abuse of his leadership position and violate our company policies, values and our commitment to trust – a commitment I know you all share.”
A GlaxoSmithKline spokesman said the US law firm Morgan Lewis conducted the investigation led by partner Grace Spets, who specializes in labor law, racial equality and social justice issues.
Galvani is a biopharmaceutical company that was created in 2016 by GSK and Verily, Google Alphabet’s Life Sciences unit.
Prior to his work at Galvani, Al-Salawi spent nearly 30 years at GSK and held various leadership positions including Head of Pharmaceutical Research and Development and Head of Vaccines Division.
She left the GSK Board of Directors in 2017.
Former US President Donald Trump appointed Salawi to lead his administration’s efforts to produce and distribute Covid-19 vaccines last year.
He resigned from the post in January ahead of President Joe Biden’s next administration.
Executive behavior and the treatment of employees have come under scrutiny over the past few years as the #MeToo social media movement has prompted a series of high-profile boardroom departures.
Christopher Corsico, Senior Vice President of Development at GSK and a board member at Galvani, has been appointed as the new chairman, GSK said.
Amy Altschul, Senior Vice President, Legal, Research and Development, and Global Franchises at GSK, has also been appointed to the board of directors.