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Novartis lawyer relies on Cohen payments



Novartis
AG


NVS -1.12%

said Wednesday that his general counsel related to his payments of $ 1.2 million to a company owned by

Michael Cohen,

American President

Donald Trumps

longtime private lawyer, as the Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer struggles to contain the consequences of the arrangement.

Novartis paid $ 1

00,000 a month to Mr. Cohen's Essential Consultants company to gain insight into health policy in a one-year contract that ended in February. Novartis Chief Executive

Vasant Narasimhan

Last week, the agreement called a mistake and rejected any involvement itself.

"Although the contract was legally in order, it was a mistake," said General Counsel

Felix Ehrat,

Who is co-signer of the deal, said in a statement Wednesday.

Novartis, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies in distribution, said last week that its goal is to better understand Trump's policy, particularly with regard to the status of the Affordable Care Act. But it became clear from his first meeting in March 2017 that it would not be helpful and stopped contacting Mr Cohen. The company said it had determined that it could not scrap the contract and continue to pay.

The disclosure is an embarrassment to the company after spending money on Mr. Cohen, who appears to have brought little help.

Novartis' move comes less than a week later

AT & T
Inc.,

what earned Mr. Cohen's company $ 600,000 for similar findings last year said that Mr. Cohen's hiring as a political adviser was a "big mistake" and ousted his top management in Washington. The telco giant said he had made the payments in return for insights into the administration at a time when he needed the government's approval for a $ 85 billion take-over of

Time Warner
Inc.

– A deal whose result is now in the hands of a federal judge.

Essential Consultants is the same company In October 2016, Mr. Cohen paid $ 130,000 to a former adult movie actress known as Stormy Daniels to prevent her from discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. Both Mr Trump and Mr Cohen deny that the meeting took place

. At Novartis, Ehrat is replaced by Shannon Thyme Klinger, currently Chief Ethics, Risk and Compliance Officer. It will be appointed effective June 1, Novartis said.

Novartis said Wednesday that Swiss prosecutors have not reported on the issue.

Write to Max Bernhard at Max.Bernhard@dowjones.com


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