Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced May 16 that Group General Counsel Felix Ehrat is stepping down. His abrupt departure follows revelations that Novartis had a $1.2 million contract with President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in exchange for access to the White House on healthcare policy.

Ehrat, who has been group general counsel and a member of the executive committee of Novartis since 2011, has decided to retire from his position “in the context of discussions surrounding Novartis’ former agreement with Essential Consultants, owned by Michael Cohen,” the company stated.

Ehrat said: “Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error. As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end.”

Shannon Thyme Klinger, currently chief ethics, risk, and compliance officer, will assume Ehrat’s role, effective June 1, 2018. Additionally, Global Head Internal Audit Natacha Theytaz will lead the ethics, risk, and compliance organization ad interim. Theytaz will join Novartis from Roche, effective June 1, 2018, as already announced internally by Novartis in January 2018.