Novartis Says General Counsel to Retire After Cohen Payments

  • Novartis Says General Counsel to Retire After Cohen Payments

Novartis Says General Counsel to Retire After Cohen Payments

Novartis has denied it was trying to gain access to Trump via payments to a firm controlled by 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".

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing the adult-film star Stormy Daniels, alleged in May that a Novartis unit had paid Essential Consulting, a firm linked to Cohen, almost $400,000 in late 2017 and early 2018.

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

Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels or knowing anything about that payment but his new lawyer Rudy Giuliani has acknowledged the United States president had in fact reimbursed Cohen for the payoff.

"Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error".

Novartis changed CEOs in February, with Vas Narasimhan replacing former CEO Joe Jimenez.

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

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

Korean Aerospace Industries also paid Cohen $150,000 for consulting services.

"After my team met with him individually, it was clear that he oversold his abilities", Jimenez told Bloomberg.

AT&T last Friday ousted its top lobbyist, Bob Quinn, and the wireless carrier's top executive said it was a "big mistake" to pay Cohen more than $600,000 during 2017 for advice on a "wide range of issues", including its proposed merger with Time Warner. He said the company continued to pay him because it feared litigation over a premature termination of the agreement.