Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Novartis lawyer steps down after Trump scandal

Novartis lawyer steps down after Trump scandal Novartis lawyer steps down after Trump scandal
Sherri Watson | 16 May, 2018, 21:47

Last week, Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti wrote on Twitter that Novartis and USA telecoms giant AT&T had used the services of Cohen's firm Essential Consultants - the same company used to make the payment to Daniels.

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.

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

Ehrat's statement on Wednesday says he was a co-signatory on the contract with Cohen, along with the then-CEO of Novartis AG, who retired at the beginning of this year. Novartis said she had not been aware of the Cohen contact.

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.

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.

The payments were exposed as part of an ongoing legal battle between Cohen and the lawyer of porn star Stormy Daniels, and as such entangled Novartis in a web of sleaze and clandestine payments, and potentially criminal conduct on Cohen's part.

Novartis had not acted on the advice and Cohen had never provided any access to anyone in the administration, said Jimenez. He said the company continued to pay him because it feared litigation over a premature termination of the agreement.

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 previous year in a doctor kickbacks case and $25 million to the USA government to settle charges of illegal doctor payments in China. "We should have just definitively parted ways with this guy as soon as we knew he was not going to be a help".

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

A "third party" recommended Cohen to Novartis, Jimenez said, declining to identify that person. In addition to those who actually lobby the government, a person would have to register under FARA if they do any kind of public relations for a foreign client or act as a consultant on USA policy, as Cohen was hired to do.