- Moderna’s CFO Jorge Gomez stepped down from the role Tuesday, as his former employer, Dentsply Sirona, publicly disclosed an ongoing internal investigation into certain matters, including financial reporting, according to an SEC filing by Moderna.
- The vaccine maker said in a statement today that “the recently appointed Chief Financial Officer, Jorge Gomez, has departed the company” and that the recently retired CFO, David Meline, will “continue in his role of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) as of May 11 while Moderna reopens its search for a new CFO.”
- Gomez’s abrupt departure comes one day after he joined the Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna as its finance chief, according to a Moderna spokersperson. Moderna was made aware of the internal investigation yesterday through Dentsply's public filing, she said.
Gomez’s former employer Dentsply, a manufacturer of dental products and technologies, detailed the internal investigation in an SEC filing yesterday, explaining how it prevented the company from filing its quarterly 10-Q report for the period ended March 31 on a “timely basis.”
In March the audit and finance committee of Dentsply’s board of directors began an internal investigation into allegations of certain financial reporting matters submitted by current and former employees, according to the filing.
Dentsply's probe is focused on the company’s use of incentives to sell products to distributors in the third and fourth quarters of 2021 and whether those incentives were appropriately accounted for, as well as whether the impact of the sales were adequately disclosed in the company’s SEC reports. The committee is also looking into allegations that certain former and current members of senior management directed the company’s use of the incentives and other actions to achieve executive compensation targets last year.
The committee has retained independent outside counsel which has hired a forensic accounting firm to assist in the investigation, the filing states. Dentsply has also contacted the SEC to make them aware of the probe.
In departing after just one day on the job, Gomez will be provided certain benefits based on the company’s executive severance plan consisting of 12 months’ salary of $700,000 and COBRA coverage for 12 months. He will forfeit his signing bonus, eligibility for relocation reimbursements, bonus eligibility and eligibility for new hire equity awards, according to Moderna's SEC filing.
Gomez's appointment was notable news last month as the rapid development and success of its coronavirus vaccine has made Moderna a household name over the past two years, as BioPharma Dive noted. It also drew outsized social media attention, perhaps in part because the announcement of Gomez's appointment came on the same day — April 11 — that another big COVID-19 vaccine maker, Pfizer, also announced it was appointing a new CFO.
Speculation swirled on Twitter that the outgoing finance chiefs’ departures were somehow related to vaccine safety. A spokesperson for Moderna said today that the CFO change had "nothing to do with vaccine safety."
An April 29 “Fact Check” analysis by Newsweek reported the claim was false, stating that although the new CFO appointments happened in a short space of time, neither outgoing CFO resigned nor did they announce their retirements “in tandem” within 72 hours of each other.
“Despite this information being a matter of public knowledge, conspiracy theorists were not deterred from reanimating mistruths about COVID-19 safety,” the Newsweek analysis states. “There is no evidence connecting their retirement to the safety profile of either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines, which is also not currently in question.”