Hi-Tech

Payments to Trump's lawyer lead drug firm lawyer to quit

Payments to Trump's lawyer lead drug firm lawyer to quit

Mr. Ehrat, who has been Group General Counsel and Member of the Executive Committee of Novartis since 2011, has chose to retire from his position in the context of discussions surrounding Novartis' former agreement with Essential Consultants, owned by Michael Cohen.

The top lawyer at Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis stepped down on Wednesday following revelations that the company made payments to President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen.

"Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error". "As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end".

"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 stated.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she was paid $130,000 by Cohen to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.

In a statement, Novartis said that Felix R. Ehrat, the group general counsel, will be replaced by Shannon Thyme Klinger, who is now the company's top ethics officer, at the beginning of June. Novartis stock, which trades through American Depositary Receipts on the New York Stock Exchange, has moved less 1% since news of the payments broke.




But after Jimenez's people sat down with Cohen individually for the first time, "it was clear that he oversold his abilities", the former CEO said. Ethics experts say that Cohen may have run afoul of foreign lobbying laws if it was the Swiss parent corporation - Novartis AG - and not the USA subsidiary that held the contract or paid him.

USA lawmakers have demanded Novartis and AT&T, which also made payments to Cohen's firm, provide details and Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, has initiated an investigation.

Jimenez said he wanted to terminate the deal but decided that doing so would have been costlier than letting the agreement expire because of "almost certain litigation".

Jimenez said the contract with Cohen was negotiated with Novartis' legal team after an introduction from an unidentified "third party", and that he had not met the lawyer in person.

"That was a mistake", said Jimenez who admitted the firm should have "parted ways" with Cohen as soon as it became apparent he could not help. At one point he recommended that the company should build a manufacturing site in the USA but Novartis never acted on any of his advice, the ex-CEO added. He maintained that Novartis never acted on any of Cohen's advice or tried to gain access to anyone in the administration.

Michael Avenatti, Daniels' lawyer, also revealed that Cohen received $500,000 through Essential Consultants from Columbus Nova, a company with connections to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who has ties to President Vladimir Putin.