A senior employee has made complaints about the practices of Robert Wessman, CEO of Alvogen and Founder and Chairman of the Board of Alvotech.
The employee, Halldor Kristmannsson, former Vice President Global Corporate Marketing, Media & Investor Relations and Company Culture at Alvogen, sent a letter to the company’s board in January, stating that he had personally experienced, witnessed and documented a number of cases of serious harassment in the workplace by the CEO. He accuses him of abusive, bullying behavior. He asked for Wessman’s removal of the company, reports ruv.is.
In an article in Morgunblaðið, who where the first to report this, he also accused Wessman of having plotted against defamation campaigns in the media against various people he had called for. These included business rivals and government officials.
Wessman was cleared after investigation
Alvogen’s board issued a statement announcing that it had received a letter on January 20 from a former employee of the company complaining about Wessman’s behavior. An independent committee was been set up to investigate the content of the complaint and Wessman resigned from Alvogen during that investigation.
A foreign law firm, White & Case, was hired to review the complaints and the Icelandic law firm Lex provided advice. The investigation lasted for eight weeks, during which time the data was reviewed and dozens of current and former employees were interviewed. They came to the conclusion that there is no evidence to suggest that there is anything wrong with Wessman’s governance and therefore no reason to take any action in this matter, reports ruv.is.
A spokesman for the company said Kristmannsson demanded an unspecified payment in a Jan. 20 letter and threatened to sue Alvogen, reports Bloomberg.
“It is clear from the letters sent by Kristmannsson’s lawyers that his accusations are made for financial purposes, as there are demands for payments to him. As has been stated, an independent international law firm was hired to go into the seams of Halldor’s complaints. Dozens of employees were interviewed and a number of documents were reviewed and the result was clear. In order to further ensure the credibility of the inspection that took place, another independent law firm was called in to review the process of the inspection and confirm it. I am very sorry that our collaboration with Halldor for 18 years has ended in this way,” wrote Wessman in a statement on March 29th.
“Did not protect my rights as a whistleblower”
Kristmannsson protests that his accusations are of financial root, as Robert stated March 29th. He did not make a financial claim on the company because of this, which was repeated in his lawyers’ letter to Alvogen’s lawyers earlier this month, reports mbl.is. However, he had reserved the right to claim compensation from Robert personally. Kristmannsson also said that he finds it remarkable that Wessman stated that “an independent international law firm” had been hired to investigate his complaints. White & Case is Alvogen’s law firm, that has looked after the company’s interests for years.
Kristmannsson believes the process to investigate his claims was not objective and did not protect his rights as a whistleblower, demonstrating serious corporate governance failings at Alvogen and Alvotech.
“It is clear to me that the process set up to investigate these claims was not independent or objective. There was no transparency around the identity of those leading the inquiry, while my efforts to assist the investigation were repeatedly and unnecessarily undermined. Given his position of control over the company, I believe that Wessman was ultimately in control of the investigation and that its result was a foregone conclusion. Alvogen’s recent statement only confirms that Wessman is attempting to manipulate the process and dictate the outcome of the investigation. The investigation is a whitewash and akin to Alvogen marking their own homework. Where is the duty of care to their own staff and how can anyone have confidence in their corporate governance?,” says Kristmannsson.
Photo of Robert Wessman: Alvotech