The chief financial officer of COVID-19 vaccine maker Moderna left the company Wednesday after only one full day on the job amid an investigation into inappropriate financial reporting at his former employer.
Jorge Gomez started with Moderna on Monday, but he left “effective immediately,” Moderna said on Wednesday. Gomez’s duties will be temporarily taken up by former CFO David Meline, who had recently retired, until the company can find a permanent replacement.
Moderna announced Gomez as the company’s new CFO on April 11, after he had left his position as CFO and executive vice president at dental equipment manufacturer Dentsply Sirona, a role he had been in since 2019.
Gomez’s incredibly short tenure at Moderna came to a swift and abrupt end after Dentsply, through a filing with the SEC on Tuesday, disclosed an ongoing investigation into irregular financial reporting at the company. The filing revealed that Dentsply is conducting an internal investigation “regarding certain financial reporting matters,” which had delayed the company from filing its first-quarter earnings results on time.
Dentsply went into more detail in a separate SEC filing, also released on Tuesday, that said the investigation is focused on “incentives” that may have been used by “current and former employees” to sell products during the third and fourth quarters of 2021. The filing also revealed that the company was investigating the role of “senior management” members who may have directed the use of these incentives to achieve “executive compensation targets” for last year.
In a statement to Fortune, Moderna asserted that the company had only been made aware of the investigation and the potential involvement of executives including Gomez by Dentsply’s SEC filing on Tuesday. A Dentsply spokesperson did not share any information outside of the publicly available SEC filings.
It is not unheard-of for companies to offer lucrative incentives, long payment terms, and even large discounts to buyers, even if the number of products being sold far exceed the amount needed by distributors. The practice is known as “channel stuffing,” and companies can use it to increase their sales numbers towards the end of the calendar year.
Channel stuffing is considered fraudulent by the SEC, as it tends to only help companies hit their short-term revenue and earnings targets, inflating sales numbers in a misleading sign to investors.
Should Dentsply’s internal investigation catch the attention of the SEC, it wouldn’t be the first time the company has been accused of channel stuffing. In 2018, Dentsply was the subject of an SEC investigation over distorted financial reporting and a channel stuffing scheme with one of its distributors.
Moderna’s shares were down 5.3% on Wednesday in midday trading. Dentsply’s stock held steady after a brief dip on Tuesday following the disclosure of the investigation.
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