On Verge of Omeros IPO, Former Finance Chief Accuses Company of Filing False Records with NIH

10/2/09Follow @xconomy

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was filed. Klein, who worked at Omeros from May 2007 until January, “discovered problems and issues” from “time to time” at the company, according to his complaint.

For example, in 2007, according to Klein’s complaint, Demopulos exercised stock options “and attempted to avoid reporting the taxable income or paying the taxes resulting from the option exercise as required by Federal tax law.” After Klein found this out, his complaint says, he required Demopulos to report the taxable income to the IRS. Demopulos also tried to prevent withholding of federal taxes from a bonus he received, Klein’s complaint contends. Omeros denies those allegations in its legal response as well.

When Klein brought up these problems to Demopulos and tried to fix them, “Demopulos was upset with Klein and insisted that Klein stop creating problems,” according to Klein’s complaint. Omeros also denies that allegation.

By October and November 2008, Klein made three separate reports to the audit committee about the problems he saw with Demopulos’ handling of tax and financial matters, according to his complaint. When Demopulos and Klein met in late November for a regularly scheduled financial meeting, Demopulos was “visibly upset” with Klein, and told him “he delegated too many tasks” and needed “to work on appearing more supportive of him (Demopulos) during company meetings,” according to Klein’s account of the meeting.

By January 13, less than one month after Klein filed the whistleblower report to the audit committee, he was placed on administrative leave and “effectively terminated,” according to his complaint. Klein was escorted from the office, told not to have any contact with anyone affiliated with Omeros, and removed from the corporate e-mail network, his complaint says.

“Demopulos had already made the decision to terminate Klein but knew any such termination was not supported by the facts and would be on shaky legal ground,” according to Klein’s complaint. As a result, according to the complaint, “Omeros conducted a forensic search of Klein’s computer in an attempt to set him up and find any grounds on which to terminate him.” By January 29, Klein was terminated, according to the complaint.

Omeros, in its response, says Klein was placed on administrative leave on January 13 and terminated on the 29th, but denies the rest of Klein’s allegations.

Klein is seeking a jury trial to hear his case, and damages that include lost pay and future wages in an amount to be determined at trial. U.S. District Judge John Coughenour has been assigned the case. For those who want to look it up, the case number is 2:09-cv-01342-JCC Klein v. Demopulos et al.

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