Novartis lawyer steps down over Trump lawyer payment

Novartis lawyer steps down over Trump lawyer payment

Novartis lawyer steps down over Trump lawyer payment

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

Novartis said Wednesday its top lawyer is retiring over the Swiss pharmaceutical company's relationship with a firm owned by U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Ehrat announced he'd step down from Novartis in June, admitted the Cohen deal 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.

Ehrat is to resign from the Basel-based pharma after revelations the firm paid $1.2 million to a company controlled by the USA president's personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

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Felix Ehrat inked the one-year deal with Cohen's Essential Consultants, the shell company he used to pay porn star Stormy Daniels to keep mum about an alleged affair with the president. "As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end".

Novartis changed CEOs in February, with Vas Narasimhan replacing former CEO Joe Jimenez. The company said it had expected that Cohen could advise it on the administration's approach to healthcare policies such as the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

"We should have just definitively parted ways with this guy as soon as we knew he was not going to be a help", said Jimenez, who claimed Cohen told him he no longer worked for Trump at the time of the contract's signing. He said the company continued to pay him because it feared litigation over a premature termination of the agreement.

Korean Aerospace Industries also paid Cohen $150,000 for consulting services. Narasimhan was among the European executives Trump had dinner with in January at Davos, though Novartis said the current CEO was "in no way involved with this agreement".

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