Moncef Slaoui, co-director of the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, will not be required to divest his investments in pharmaceutical companies and will not be subject to federal disclosure rules, according to a decision by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG), reported The Hill.
Advocacy groups Public Citizen and Lower Drug Prices Now had filed the complaint because Slaoui has extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
Slaoui, a former executive at GlaxoSmithKline, most recently sat on the board of Moderna, which is receiving government funding to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Although he has resigned from the board, Slaoui still holds more than 156,000 stock options in the biotech company. The shares were worth approximately $10 million at the time of his appointment to lead Operation Warp Speed.
The OIG determined that because Slaoui’s position is on a contract, he is not considered a government employee, meaning he is not subject to the same federal disclosure rules that would require him to list his stock holdings.
The advocacy groups wanted Slaoui to be classified as a government employee or "special government employee," that would require him to disclose all company ties and divest any potential conflicts of interest.
In a letter to the groups, the inspector general focused on the definition of a "special government employee," a title given to an outside expert appointed for up to 130 days. As Operation Warp Speed will likely take longer than 130 days, the OIG said Saloui did not classify as a special government employee.
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