Top Novartis lawyer to exit over deal with Trump insider

Felix Ehrat

Novartis Lawyer Retires in Relation to Cohen Payments

Novartis said Ehrat "has chose to retire from his position in the context of discussions surrounding Novartis' former agreement with Essential Consultants, owned by Michael Cohen".

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis on Wednesday announced the retirement of its top legal expert, as he apologised for payments made by the firm to Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

Ehrat commented: 'Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error. "As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end".

A news story from Bloomberg reports that Narasimhan has responded to the scandal by inviting 5,000 senior Novartis managers to a conference call, in which he stressed the need for the company to regain public trust and change how it works with consultants and lobbyists.

That's the same firm Cohen used to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.

Novartis group general counsel Felix R. Ehrat said Wednesday that he would retire, because of the role he played in setting up the contract.

But after Jimenez's people sat down with Cohen individually for the first time, "it was clear that he oversold his abilities", the former CEO said.

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Novartis admitted last week it was paying Cohen $100,000 a month.

After a much-publicized series of scandals and legal actions in Japan, Novartis has fielded bribery and kickback allegations in multiple countries-twice, in China's case-and paid at least two related fines: A $50 million penatly to South Korean authorities past year in a doctor kickbacks case and $25 million to the US government to settle charges of illegal doctor payments in China. 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.

A "third party" recommended Cohen to Novartis, Jimenez said, declining to identify that person.

A USA probe into whistleblower allegations that the company offered kickbacks to doctors via fancy dinners shamming as educational events.

After the election, drug companies proactively sought to develop policy proposals amid a commitment to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Jimenez said.

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.

While his exit offers some measure of accountability, though, the company still faces scrutiny into why it paid an unusually high amount for advice on healthcare policy that Cohen was unable to deliver.

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