Moderna chairman Afeyan defends hiring practices after CFO debacle: report

Moderna’s recent chief financial officer debacle—in which Jorge Gomez departed on his second day on the job—raised questions about the company’s hiring process given its rush to global biopharma prominence.

The most obvious one: How was it possible for Gomez to be hired when he was under investigation by his previous employer, Dentsply Sirona of Charlotte, N.C.

Moderna’s board chairman Noubar Afeyan, speaking with The Financial Times, said legalities prevented Dentsply Sirona from revealing its probe into financial reporting inaccuracies.

“Both the process of recruiting and vetting and the process with which we reacted to the new facts that came out, were completely appropriate,” Afeyan told FT. “I can’t think of a different approach that we could have used under those circumstances.”

Dentsply’s investigation was triggered by information from previous and current employees. The company then notified the SEC of its internal probe.  

Moderna announced the hire of Gomez on April 11 to replace retiring CFO David Meline. Eight days later, Dentsply Sirona revealed the immediate and unexplained departure of its CEO Don Casey. 

Casey, formerly the CEO of the medical segment of Cardinal Health, arrived at Dentsply in 2018. A year later he hired Gomez, who was the CFO at Cardinal for 13 years.

Gomez’ first day at Moderna was May 10. The company revealed his departure the following day.

On Monday, Moderna said it would attempt to claw back Gomez’ $700,000 severance package, equal to a year’s salary, if he is found of wrongdoing or is fined by the SEC.

As Moderna has rapidly evolved from its previous identity as a small biotech to a global vaccine power, it has had growing pains and executive changes.

“The scale that they’ve achieved and the growth is completely commensurate with the leadership changes,” Afeyan told the Times.