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Novartis’s Top Lawyer is Out After Payments to Michael Cohen

Novartis’s top lawyer is to retire from the company over payments made by the pharmaceutical giant to President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen, the Swiss drug maker said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Novartis said that Felix R. Ehrat, the group general counsel, would be replaced by Shannon Thyme Klinger, who is currently the company’s top ethics officer, at the beginning of June. Mr. Ehrat was stepping down “in the context of discussions surrounding Novartis’s former agreement with Essential Consultants, owned by Michael Cohen,” the pharmaceutical company said.

“Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error,” Mr. Ehrat said. “As a cosignatory with our former C.E.O., I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end.”

Mr. Ehrat, a practicing lawyer in Switzerland, has been the group general counsel at Novartis since 2011.

Novartis has said that its former chief executive, Joe Jimenez, entered into the agreement with Mr. Cohen as part of an effort to gain insight into the approach the new administration would take on topics of interest to Novartis, particularly health care. The company said that, after an initial meeting with Mr. Cohen last March, it concluded that he did not have the expertise they had hoped for and decided not to go forward with the arrangement. But it said it learned the contract could only be canceled for cause and allowed it to expire in February.

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