Novartis Top Lawyer Is Stepping Down After Cohen Payments

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Getty Images

Ehrat, who has been Group General Counsel and Member of the Executive Committee of Novartis since 2011, is to step down on June 1st in the context of discussions surrounding payments to Michael Cohen's Essential Communications, the company said in a statement.

Porn actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti, said Monday, May 14, he did nothing wrong by distributing a report last week that detailed the finances of the president's personal attorney, Cohen, and showed he had charged companies a hefty price for "insight" about Trump.

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

However Mr Ehrat's resignation won't bring the matter to a close, as formal investigations into the payments remain a possibility in Switzerland and the US.

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Novartis ended the contract with Cohen, which paid out $100,000 a month, earlier this year.

Novartis said its representatives met with Cohen in March 2017.

"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", Jimenez told Bloomberg in an interview published Wednesday.

In the meeting with investors, Narasimhan cited a number of steps the company is taking in the wake of a series of legal troubles in recent years.

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Jörg Reinhardt, chairman of the Board of Directors said: "I appreciate Felix's decision even as we regret his departure". A trial for another USA kickbacks case is scheduled for 2019. "Let me be absolutely clear: I never want Novartis to achieve our financial performance or objectives because we compromised on ethical standards or our values".

Novartis has said that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, contacted them last November to inquire about the connection to Mr. Cohen, and that the company cooperated with the investigation and considers its role closed.

Ehrat's resignation coincides with a "Meet Novartis Management" investor day being held at the company's headquarters in Basel today, where the company would rather discuss its business and pipeline, but will undoubtedly face further questions about its corporate governance.

According to Bloomberg, Jimenez's successor, Vas Narasimhan, has told Novartis's managers that the company needs to "rethink its approach to the use of consultants and lobbying firms". Novartis should have done more due diligence, he said. The former CEO said he wanted to terminate the deal but ultimately decided that trying to end it would have been costlier than letting the agreement expire because of "almost certain litigation", he said.

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