Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Novartis' top lawyer resigns in wake of Trump scandal

Novartis' top lawyer resigns in wake of Trump scandal

The top lawyer at Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis stepped down on Wednesday following revelations that the company made payments to President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Novartis' general counsel Felix Ehrat will be replaced on June 1 by Shannon Thyme Klinger, who now works as the company's chief ethics, risk and compliance officer, according to the WSJ.

It was recently revealed that Novartis made monthly payments, totalling $1.2m, seeking guidance on how the Trump administration might approach USA healthcare policies.

"As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end", Ehrat said Wednesday.

The top lawyer for drugmaker Novartis said he'll step down after hiring Trump fixer Michael Cohen's Essential Consultants as an adviser previous year. In the statement announcing Bob Quinn's retirement, AT&T called the agreement a "big mistake".

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

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

The payments became public knowledge after Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn actress Stephanie Clifford, who is better known as Stormy Daniels, published details of an account used by Cohen to pay Clifford $130,000 so that she would keep quiet about her affair with the United States president.

Novartis said its representatives met with Cohen in March 2017.

Apart from AT&T and Novartis, Cohen was also paid by Korea Aerospace Industries and Columbus Nova, a NY investment firm whose biggest client is Renova Group, a conglomerate owned by USA -sanctioned, Kremlin-backed Russian oligarch Victor Vekselberg.

Novartis agreed to retain Cohen for help with access to the new White House over health care matters, although the company's government affairs team realized shortly after the contract was signed that Cohen was unlikely to deliver.

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