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Swiss prosecutors won't pursue Novartis over payments to Trump lawyer

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Swiss prosecutors won't pursue Novartis over payments to Trump lawyer
Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorney, in April. Photo: AFP
09:56 CEST+02:00
The Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has decided not to bring proceedings in response to a criminal complaint filed against Novartis over payments made to a company owned by Donald Trump's personal lawyer.

The complaint was filed after it emerged the Novartis subsidiary Novartis Investments S.A.R.L. paid $100,000 a month for 12 months to Essential Consultants, which is owned and controlled by Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen.

After the news broke of the Novartis deal, US media speculated the Swiss firm had been trying to gain access to the US president in what was essentially a form of covert lobbying.

Read also: Novartis dumps general counsel over payments to Trump's lawyer

In a May 9th statement, Novartis acknowledged the payments but denied any attempt to buy political influence.

Now, after a detailed examination, the Swiss OAG has decided “there was neither sufficient suspicion that the payments were made to a foreign public official nor that there was any link between the payments and any official act.”

“The OAG also concluded that there was insufficient suspicion of any bribery of private individuals,” said the office in a statement emailed to The Local.

For the above reasons, the OAG has decided not to open criminal proceedings, the statement concluded.

The revelation of payments by Novartis to the firm controlled by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was bad news for the Swiss pharmaceutical company.

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan later called the payments “a mistake” in an internal memo, and US media outlets reported Narasimhan went on to conduct a conference call with 5,000 company managers in which he said the firm needed to re-examine its lobbying practices.

Company Group General Counsel and executive committee member Felix R. Ehrat was also forced out after the payments went public.

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