Novartis Says General Counsel to Retire After Cohen Payments

Novartis said Wednesday its top lawyer is retiring over the Swiss pharmaceutical company's relationship with a firm owned by U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

The one-year deal with Essential was revealed last week when lawyer Michael Avenatti, whose client Stormy Daniels is suing Cohen, announced several corporations paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the shell company.

Ehrat is to resign from the Basel-based pharma after revelations the firm paid $1.2 million to a company controlled by the USA president's personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

The Novartis ouster comes as AT&T forced its top Washington, D.C. executive into retirement last week, following fallout from revelations that the telecom giant paid Cohen $600,000 past year.

Cohen's company Essential Consultants had a one-year $1.2 million contract with Novartis during the beginning of the Trump administration.

On May 16, Novartis's general counsel Feliz R. Ehrat apologised for making the deal.

"Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error", Ehrat said in the statement. "As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end", Ehrat, 60, said in a statement released Wednesday. He will be replaced by chief ethics, risk and compliance officer Shannon Thyme Klinger.

The case is under examination by the Greek and USA authorities. He said the company continued to pay him because it feared litigation over a premature termination of the agreement.

"With the recent change in administration, Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain United States healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act", Novartis said in a statement to Business Insider on March 9.

He also said Cohen stated he would not provide any lobbing services.

The company said it met with Cohen only once - in March 2017.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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