Novartis top lawyer quits over Cohen payments


The top executive at Swiss drug making company Novartis is retiring from the company in connection with the $1.2 million it paid to a shadow company owned by President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Micheal Cohen previous year, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Novartis said that Ehrat - who is also a member of the company's executive committee - was retiring "in the context of discussions" over the agreement.

Last week, Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti wrote on Twitter that Novartis and USA telecoms giant AT&T had used the services of Cohen's firm Essential Consultants - the same company used to make the payment to Daniels.

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

Novartis made the payments of $100,000 a month to Mr. Cohen's company, Essential Consultants, for insight into health-care policy in a one-year contract that ended in February.

"As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end", said Ehrat, who will officially leave June 1. He will be replaced by chief ethics, risk and compliance officer Shannon Thyme Klinger.

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

Several companies admitted last week to having had financial connections to Cohen.

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 USA -sanctioned, Kremlin-backed Russian oligarch Victor Vekselberg.