Top lawyer exits as Novartis seeks to quell Cohen backlash

17 May, 2018, 09:09 | Author: Camille Rivera
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A statement from Novartis said Ehrat was retiring because of questions in the United States about the company's former agreement with Essential Consultants, which is owned by Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

A top executive for Novartis is leaving the drug manufacturer over payments to President TrumpDonald John TrumpOregon governor to face state rep in November Ashford, Eastman neck and neck in Nebraska Dem primary Progressive pick Wild wins Dem primary for Pa. House seat MORE's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

"Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error", said Ehrat, 61, in a May 16 statement.

"With the recent change in administration, Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain USA healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act", Novartis stated.

The announcement comes after Novartis was dragged into the scandal over Cohen's payment of $130,000 to US porn actress Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election.

Ehrat will leave Novartis on June 1, 2018.

Shannon Thyme Klinger, who is now the chief ethics, risk and compliance officer at Novartis, will take Ehrat's place as Group General Counsel on June 1. Novartis has said that Narasimhan had no involvement. It was part of efforts to learn more about how the Trump administration might approach US healthcare, Novartis said.

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.

Novartis's payments to Cohen have reportedly aroused the interest of Swiss public prosecutors, although there are now no criminal proceedings underway.

After paying Essential Consultants a monthly fee of $100,000, the contract is now at an end.

Jimenez said he had wanted to terminate the 12-month deal with Essential Communications as soon as he realised this was the case but decided against doing so because of potential legal costs involved - a decision he now considers a "mistake". Jimenez said he never met Cohen in person. But one of the newest members of Trump's legal team, former federal prosecutor and NY mayor Rudy Giuliani, has acknowledged the United States president reimbursed Cohen for the hush money.

Ehrat's retirement echoes that last week of of AT&T's top lobbyist, Bob Quinn, who had responsibility for that company's hiring of Cohen and his Essential Consultants vehicle. In an interview with Bloomberg, Jimenez said he hired Cohen thinking the lawyer had stopped working for Trump and turned to selling "his expertise in terms of knowing the personalities that were in the administration".



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