Novartis paid $1.2m to Trump lawyer for policy insights

11 May, 2018, 04:00 | Author: Carlos George
  • Novartis Paid More than $1 Million to Firm Linked to Trump Lawyer

AT&T and Novartis confirmed having made the payments and Avenatti suggested that Cohen may have been seeking to profit from his longtime ties to Trump.

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Novartis said Wednesday it was contacted in November "by lawyers from the special counsel's office regarding the company's agreement with Essential Consultants".

In statements obtained by ABC News, several of the companies, including foreign-owned Novartis and domestically owned AT&T, have indicated Cohen reportedly offered access to the Trump Administration.

"Mr. Avenatti's conduct in one way or the other acquiring random financial institution data and publishing them with out correct concern for his or her accuracy is extraordinarily troubling for the events on this case, the Courtroom, and the general public", Ryan and Harrison wrote.

It's good that AT&T cleared that up, though Essential Consulting is hardly a legal or lobbying powerhouse. Documents linked to by STAT show that a unit of the drug firm called Novartis Investment SARL made about four payments of almost $100,000 each to Essential Consultants on October 5, 2017, November 3, 2017, December 1, 2017, and January 5, 2018, totaling almost $400,000. It says its contract with him expired in December 2017. Contrary to recent media reports, this agreement was also in no way related to the group dinner Dr. Narasimhan had at the World Economic Forum in Davos with President Trump and 15 Europe based industry leaders. Those issues included regulatory matters at the Federal Communications Commission, corporate tax reform and antitrust enforcement, the company said, adding that companies commonly hire consultants for such purposes around the time a new president takes office.

Avenatti claimed that Vekselberg may have provided funds that "replenished the account" following Cohen's payments to Daniels. The Trump administration opposed the AT&T effort, and the Department of Justice filed suit to block the merger in November previous year. Afterward, Novartis determined Essential Consultants wouldn't be able to provide the health-care counsel that the company had anticipated and opted "not to engage further".

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One company that made a $500,000 payment was Columbus Nova, the US affiliate of an investment firm with ties to a sanctioned Russian oligarch.

A Columbus Nova spokesman has said the payments to Cohen were for unspecified investment consulting.

The name of Andrew Intrater, the CEO of Columbus Nova and the cousin of Vekselberg, comes up repeatedly in the litigation.

Because Avenatti is Los Angeles-based, he has to gain permission from the NY court to appear in this matter.

President Trump had been sworn into office, and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, saw a golden opportunity. Sending money to a shell company, instead of his business, that sets off some alarm bell.

A company spokesman said Columbus Nova's use of the word affiliate in its SEC filings was never meant to imply ownership. The company couldn't break it's $100,000-per-month contract, however, until the year was up.


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