Novartis top lawyer quits over Cohen payments

Novartis top lawyer quits over Cohen payments

Novartis top lawyer quits over Cohen payments

The top lawyer at Novartis stepped down after it was revealed he signed a $1.2 million contract with President Trump's personal lawyer - more fallout from the payments companies made to Michael Cohen.

Novartis group general counsel Felix R. Ehrat said Wednesday that he would retire, because of the role he played in setting up the contract, saying that while the contract was legal, "it was an error".

The Novartis ouster comes as AT&T forced its top Washington, D.C. executive into retirement last week, following fallout from revelations that the telecom giant paid Cohen $600,000 past year.

Cohen's company Essential Consultants had a one-year $1.2 million contract with Novartis during the beginning of the Trump administration. But as we reported previously, the drug maker continued making payments - in $100,000 monthly installments - to avoid angering Trump.

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

"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 said in a statement to Business Insider on March 9.

However, following its initial meeting with Cohen in March 2017, the company realised that he would be "unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated", but was unable to break the contract.

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

Former CEO Joe Jimenez, who signed the deal with Ehrat, claims Cohen pitched himself to executives, offering insight into the new administration.

AT&T last Friday ousted its top lobbyist, Bob Quinn, and the wireless carrier's top executive said it was a "big mistake" to pay Cohen more than $600,000 during 2017 for advice on a "wide range of issues", including its proposed merger with Time Warner.

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