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Abeona Terminates CEO Carsten Thiel for “Personal Misconduct”

Xconomy New York — 

Seven months after departing Alexion Pharmaceuticals for the CEO role at Abeona Therapeutics, Carsten Thiel is out of the job.

Thiel has been terminated due to “personal misconduct,” Abeona (NASDAQ: ABEO) said in a prepared statement. The New York company said the termination followed an investigation by independent members of the board of directors and external counsel into “allegations of misconduct towards colleagues that the Board concluded violated the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and was inconsistent with its expectations for Abeona’s CEO.” The company added that the termination was not tied to the company’s finances, operations or clinical programs.

“We expect all employees, regardless of title or responsibility, to conduct themselves ethically and in accordance with company policies, and are committed to ensuring an environment of respect, integrity and ethical conduct at Abeona,” Steven Rouhandeh, Abeona’s chairman of the board and executive chairman said in a prepared statement.

In Thiel’s place, João Siffert, Abeona’s head of research & development and chief medical officer, has been appointed interim CEO. Siffert joined Abeona last month, leaving an executive role at Nestlé Health Science.

According to Thiel’s employment agreement, Abeona may terminate the CEO’s employment for any reason, and the executive is entitled to salary through the date of termination. Thiel is also entitled to the amount of the annual cash bonus, which is pegged to the company’s performance, that has been earned but not yet paid. The agreement further states that if the termination is for cause, the executive is not eligible for the bonus.

Abeona develops cell and gene therapies to treat rare genetic diseases. The company’s most advanced program is an experimental gene therapy in early-stage testing for the skin disorder epidermolysis bullosa.