WASHINGTON — The man who led former President Donald Trump’s effort to produce Covid-19 vaccines, Moncef Slaoui, has been fired from a bioelectronics company’s board of directors over sexual harassment allegations.
Slaoui, who was in charge of Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, was fired as chair of the board of directors for Galvani Bioelectronics, the company’s majority shareholder, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, announced Wednesday.
“The termination follows the receipt of a letter containing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct towards an employee of GSK by Dr. Slaoui, which occurred several years ago when he was an employee of GSK,” GlaxoSmithKline said in a press release.
Slaoui had previously served as the company’s chairman for vaccines. He did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment on the allegations or his firing. Later Wednesday, he issued a statement in which he acknowledged his termination and said, “I would like to apologize unreservedly to the employee concerned and I am deeply sorry for any distress caused.”
“I have the utmost respect for my colleagues and feel terrible that my actions have put a former colleague in an uncomfortable situation,” Slaoui said.
He added: “I will work hard to redeem myself with all those that this situation has impacted. I am taking a leave of absence from my current professional responsibilities effective immediately, to focus on my family.”
GlaxoSmithKline’s board launched an investigation with a law firm to look into the allegations in the letter, the company release said.
“The investigation of Dr. Slaoui’s conduct substantiated the allegations and is ongoing,” it said. “Dr. Slaoui’s behaviors are wholly unacceptable. They represent an abuse of his leadership position, violate company policies, and are contrary to the strong values that define GSK’s culture.”
GlaxoSmithKline said that, “Sexual harassment and any abuse of leadership position are strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated.”
The company did not disclose details about the allegations, including whom they came from or when the alleged harassment took place.
As head of Operation Warp Speed, Slaoui had overseen the development and production of Covid-19 vaccines over the last year. At the request of President Joe Biden’s transition team, however, Slaoui resigned just days before the Jan. 20 inauguration.