Novartis Lawyer Retires in Relation to Cohen Payments

16 May, 2018, 16:00 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Novartis general counsel steps down over drugmaker's $1.2 million contract with Michael Cohen

Novartis group general counsel Felix Ehrat is standing down from the company after taking personal responsibility for a $1.2m (£890,000) contract with US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, an agreement he admits was an "error". He will be replaced by chief ethics, risk and compliance officer Shannon Thyme Klinger.

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.

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

On May 9, Novartis said it signed a one-year contract for $100,000 a month with the firm in February 2017, seeking advice on the new administration's public health policy.

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.

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Novartis previously admitted to hiring Essential in February 2017 for advice "as to how the Trump administration might approach certain USA healthcare policy matters".

Novartis said its representatives met with Cohen in March 2017.

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. It said the payments continued because the contract could not have been terminated.

According to Bloomberg, Jimenez's successor, Vas Narasimhan, has told Novartis's managers that the company needs to "rethink its approach to the use of consultants and lobbying firms".

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