Novartis top lawyer quits over Cohen payments

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Felix Ehrat, general counsel for the Swiss drugmaker, noted in a statement Wednesday that the company's $1.2 million agreement was "legally in order", but added "it was an error".

Novartis said its general counsel, Felix Ehrat, had chose to retire from his position in the "context of discussions" surrounding the payments to Cohen.

The one-year contract with Essential Consultants - signed in February 2017, shortly after Trump became president - saw Novartis agree to pay Cohen (pictured above) $100,000 (£74,000) per month.

Ehrat announced he'd step down from Novartis in June, admitted the Cohen deal was "an error."

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. He will be replaced by chief ethics, risk and compliance officer Shannon Thyme Klinger. It said it believed that Cohen could advise the company on the Trump administration's approach to healthcare policies, including the Affordable Care Act.

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Jimenez said he also made a mistake in not seeking to end payments to Michael Cohen immediately after Novartis quickly determined that he would be of little help.

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 US -sanctioned, Kremlin-backed Russian oligarch Victor Vekselberg.

Ehrat's retirement echoes that last week of of AT&T's top lobbyist, Bob Quinn, who had responsibility for that company's hiring of Cohen and his Essential Consultants vehicle.

Joe Jimenez, the CEO of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, addresses a news conference to present the company's 2016 results in Basel, Switzerland January 25, 2017.

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