Novartis General Counsel Felix Ehrat will leave the company over his role in a $1.2 million contract the Swiss drugmaker struck with the lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, saying on Wednesday that it was legal but still an error.
Ehrat will be replaced starting from June 1 by Shannon Thyme Klinger, who is now Novartis's ethics, risk and compliance officer.
Novartis said its general counsel, Felix Ehrat, had made a decision to retire from his position in the "context of discussions" surrounding the payments to Cohen.
The company has said that it realized after its first meeting with Cohen that the Trump's personal lawyer would not be helpful in garnering influence and stopped working with him, but continued to pay out the remainder of the contract.
Last week, Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti wrote on Twitter that Novartis and US 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'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. The company said it had expected that Cohen could advise it on the administration's approach to healthcare policies such as the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Former CEO Joe Jimenez, who signed the deal with Ehrat, claims Cohen pitched himself to executives, offering insight into the new administration.
Novartis said its representatives met with Cohen in March 2017. Jimenez left the company last September. But as we reported previously, the drug maker continued making payments - in $100,000 monthly installments - to avoid angering Trump.