Novartis chief lawyer departing over company's payments made to Cohen

Novartis chief lawyer departing over company's payments made to Cohen

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 past year, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Felix Ehrat, 61, who was general counsel and a member of the Novartis executive committee since 2011, is retiring and will be succeeded by the chief risk and compliance officer, according to a statement released in conjunction with an investor meeting.

"Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error". He will retire at the start of June, to be replaced by current Novartis ethics chief Shannon Thyme Klinger. It said it believed that Cohen could advise the company on the Trump administration's approach to healthcare policies, including the Affordable Care Act. The new Novartis chief executive, Vasant Narasimhan, a former R&D chief who succeeded Jimenez this past February, called the contract a "mistake", and quickly distanced himself by insisting he was not involved in retaining Cohen.

The one-year deal with Essential was revealed last week when lawyer Michael Avenatti, whose client Stormy Daniels is suing Cohen, announced several corporations paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the shell company.

Cohen's Essential Consultants received $1.2 million from Novartis in a one-year contract ending in February 2018.

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Novartis said its representatives met with Cohen in March 2017. He said the company continued to pay him because it feared litigation over a premature termination of the agreement.

Joe Jimenez, the CEO of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, addresses a news conference to present the company's 2016 results in Basel, Switzerland January 25, 2017.

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