Novartis top lawyer quits over Cohen payments

Lloyd Doyle
May 16, 2018

The top lawyer at Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis has fallen on his sword over the company's payments to U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Novartis said its general counsel, Felix Ehrat, had made a decision to retire from his position in the "context of discussions" surrounding the payments to Cohen.

The $100,000-per-month contract with Trump attorney Michael Cohen's Essential Consulting, the same firm used to pay porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to hush up an alleged affair with Trump, has distracted Novartis's efforts to improve its image after a series of bribery scandals.

In a statement, Ehrat said, "Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error".

The top lawyer for drugmaker Novartis said he'll step down after hiring Trump fixer Michael Cohen's Essential Consultants as an adviser a year ago.

After the news broke of the Novartis deal, U.S. media speculated the Swiss firm had been trying to gain access to the United States president.

In a May 9th statement, Novartis acknowledged the payments but denied any attempt to buy political influence. It said it believed that Cohen could advise the company on the Trump administration's approach to healthcare policies, including the Affordable Care Act.

But executives weren't impressed by Cohen after their first meeting in March 2017, a month into the deal.

Apart from AT&T and Novartis, Cohen was also paid by Korea Aerospace Industries and Columbus Nova, a NY investment firm whose biggest client is Renova Group, a conglomerate owned by US -sanctioned, Kremlin-backed Russian oligarch Victor Vekselberg.

"After my team met with him individually, it was clear that he oversold his abilities", Jimenez told Bloomberg. He said the company continued to pay him because it feared litigation over a premature termination of the agreement.

Novartis CEO Narasimhan this week conducted a conference call with 5,000 managers in which he said the firm needed to re-examine its lobbying practices, Bloomberg said, citing a source close to the matter.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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