Greek ex-PMs, ministers linked to Novartis bribe scandal

EPA / ALEXANDROS VLACHOS

External view of the offices of Swiss medicine maker Novartis in Athens, Greece, 04 January 2017.

Greek ex-PMs, ministers linked to Novartis bribe scandal


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Greece’s Public Prosecution Office handed over a case file to the Greek Parliament a case file accusing Swiss drug firm Novartis of paying bribes to former government officials from different parties in 2006-2015.

According to reports by Greek media, three protected witnesses have described how 10 politicians received €50 million in bribes. A total of 30 politicians, including ministers, prime ministers, secretaries-general, committee members, governors of public agencies, and political counsellors are reported to have been part of the scandal.

Novartis said it will continue to cooperate with requests from both local and foreign authorities. Neither Novartis nor any of its current associates have been officially indicted in connection with the case. The company concluded that any allegation of misconduct needed to be taken “extremely seriously” and that the Swiss Pharma giant will “thoroughly review all reports”.

According to reports, the politicians involved involved in the case are 2012 caretaker government head Panayiotis Pikrammenos, former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, ex-health ministers Dimitris Avramopoulos – who also currently serves as European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Andreas Loverdos, Andreas Lykourentzos, and Adonis Georgiadis, former alternate minister of Health Marios Salmas, ex-finance ministers Yannis Stournaras, and Evangelos Venizelos, and former labour minister George Koutroumanis.

All are accused of taking bribes and breaching the public’s trust.

Samaras described the investigation as being politically motivated and personally directed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, suggesting that those behind “will answer in court”.

Avramopoulos claimed he had nothing to do with the accusations, adding that during the time he served as a minister (2006-2009), the Health Ministry was not responsible for drug pricing.

Venizelos has sent a letter to the Greek Parliament speaker Nikos Voutsis asking him to make the case file public after government ministers disclosed the details in interviews.

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