The $100,000-per-month contract between Novartis and Cohen's Essential Consultants was approved under former chief executive Joe Jimenez in 2017 as a bid to gain insight into USA healthcare policy under the new administration.
A top executive for Novartis is leaving the drug manufacturer over payments to President TrumpDonald John TrumpOregon governor to face state rep in November Ashford, Eastman neck and neck in Nebraska Dem primary Progressive pick Wild wins Dem primary for Pa. House seat MORE's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
"Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error", Ehrat said. And while Novartis contends the deal was a mistaken attempt to gain insight into the policies of a new administration, it presents a reputational challenge for a company previously accused of improper payments elsewhere in its business dealings.
That's the same firm Cohen used to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump. It was recently revealed that Novartis made monthly payments, totalling $1.2m, seeking guidance on how the Trump administration might approach USA healthcare policies.
Shannon Thyme Klinger, now chief ethics, risk and compliance officer, will replace Ehart as group general counsel, effective 1 June 2018. Novartis should have done more due diligence, he said. It was part of efforts to learn more about how the Trump administration might approach USA healthcare, Novartis said.
Novartis ended the $100,000-per-month contract, signed in early 2017 by Ehrat and former Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez, this year.
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.
Novartis was drawn into Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of suspected Russian meddling in the us presidential election after it signed a one-year agreement with Cohen's firm. 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.
"That was a mistake", said Jimenez who admitted the firm should have "parted ways" with Cohen as soon as it became apparent he could not help. A trial for another USA kickbacks case is scheduled for 2019.
A "third party" recommended Cohen to Novartis, Jimenez said, declining to identify that person. It said it believed that Cohen could advise the company on the Trump administration's approach to healthcare policies, including the Affordable Care Act.
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.