Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Firm Tied to Russian Oligarch Made Payments to Michael Cohen

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Ellis Copeland | 12 May, 2018, 06:42

ISTOCK/HOHLNovartis reportedly paid Essential Consultants, a company run by President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, $1.2 million, but has since ended a contract with the firm, according to Reuters.

The payments were revealed by the man who has become Cohen's nemesis, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who is seeking to release Daniels from the "hush agreement" she signed with Essential Consultants.

On Wednesday, Korea Aerospace Industries said it paid for accounting-related services, while Novartis cited healthcare consulting.

Cohen is now under criminal investigation in Manhattan, and Stephenson said the company cooperated fully with Special Counsel Robert Mueller when the investigator came calling in November and December of past year. Antitrust officials within the Trump administration are trying to block the merger and AT&T leaders thought Cohen could help them.

The memo alleges the company paid Cohen $399,920 in late 2017 and early 2018 in four payments - each amounting to $99,980.

Avenatti did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cohen's more recent notoriety stems from his role in paying $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump and his retinue of media apologists might find that they have spent more than a year wasting their time blowing smoke in the wrong scandal.

The payments were stipulated by a one-year agreement with Essential Consultants that Novartis pursued in the belief that Mr. Cohen could advise "how the Trump administration might approach USA health-care policy matters", such as the Affordable Care Act. She has sued both Trump and Cohen.

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CNN reviewed documents that appear to show those payments. In a court filing, Cohen's lawyer Stephen Ryan said Avenatti appears to have Cohen's actual bank records and questioned how he could have obtained them lawfully.

The lawyers for Michael Cohen told a NY judge Wednesday that Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has made "numerous incorrect statements" publicly since releasing information related to Cohen on Tuesday. While Novartis got little from Cohen, the arrangement dragged Novartis into Mueller's investigation.

Novartis says it concluded - after a first meeting under contract - that Cohen could not provide the advice on health care policy it sought, but why did it enter into a deal in the first place, and why did it not exit the contract if Cohen couldn't deliver the agreed-upon services?

The document - if substantiated - describes a previously unknown relationship between Cohen and interests associated with Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. The payment to Daniels is among the areas being eyed by investigators in that probe.

"He imagined himself as chief of staff", the Times said. But those rules wouldn't apply to Cohen, who never served in government and never registered as a lobbyist. A person at the firm familiar with the Cohen deal told the Washington Post that hiring him was "a no-brainer", since it seemed having the president's personal lawyer on board would be good "from an optics perspective" with the new administration.

Word of the investigation comes from Rich Delmar, general counsel for the department's inspector general.

Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Kremlin denies meddling in the election.

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