Anne Taylor, Harvard University's former general counsel, has told The Boston Globe that President Larry Summers played no role to her knowledge in Harvard's handling of a lawsuit involving star economics professor Andrei Shleifer, one of Summers's best friends. A federal judge found Shleifer to have conspired to defraud the US government when he made investments in Russia while he was supposed to be acting as an impartial adviser on Russian changes. The suit cost Harvard $26.5 million, and upset many professors because Shleifer apparently had never received punishment from Harvard. Some professors and others have wondered if Summers meddled in the lawsuit, and the case was one of many issues that some professors cited when they sought Summers's resignation. Summers, who announced recently that he would resign in June, has said that he had recused himself from the case from the beginning of his presidency. Still, people have speculated that he might have been involved from March 2001, when he was appointed president-elect, to July 2001, when he took office. Reached by phone last week in Mexico, where she was vacationing, Taylor quickly dismissed the idea that Summers had meddled in the case before he was formally recused. Taylor said that soon after Summers was appointed, "he and I had a completely appropriate conversation where he asked me about the status of the case . . . He didn't influence my behavior, not at all." Taylor said decisions regarding the case, including settlement talks, were being made by the president at the time, Neil Rudenstine, Harvard's governing board, and her office.
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