Hi-Tech

Novartis Top Lawyer Is Stepping Down After Cohen Payments

Novartis Top Lawyer Is Stepping Down After Cohen Payments

Novartis' top lawyer, Felix Ehrat, will retire at the beginning of next month, stepping down from his post on the pharma's executive committee over the controversial payment by Novartis of $1.2 million to a company controlled by President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

"With the recent change in administration, Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain U.S. healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act", Novartis said in a statement to Business Insider on March 9.

Following a meeting with Cohen, the company changed its mind, although Novartis was contractually obliged to pay Cohen the full $1.2m.

He told Bloomberg: "Michael Cohen was somebody who was introduced to us, and he was unknown to us, but he was said to be somebody who could help".

"After my team met with him individually, it was clear that he oversold his abilities".

Cohen did not register his consulting work for Novartis with the Justice Department.




Cohen came under investigation by federal prosecutors after arranging a $130,000 payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to keep her from disclosing an alleged sexual relationship with Trump.

Ehrat said that the $1.2 million in payments to Cohen's firm, which he co-signed, were an "error", even though he said they were legally in order.

"That was the mistake", he said. Novartis should have done more due diligence and "definitively parted ways" with Cohen as soon as it knew he wouldn't be able to help, the former CEO said.

Novartis' new CEO Vas Narasimhan has since admitted that the payments were a serious error, but has been careful to distance himself from the decision.

Novartis shareholders have urged Narasimhan to exert more "moral influence" over perceived ethical shortcomings that Jimenez in 2016 blamed on a "results-oriented" sales culture and some bad actors. "That's where he was not able to deliver". "Because it's political activity on behalf of a foreign principal", said Joshua Ian Rosenstein, a partner at Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock who specializes in lobbying compliance.

A USA probe into whistleblower allegations that the company offered kickbacks to doctors via fancy dinners shamming as educational events. He never provided any access to anyone in the administration, he said. 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".