Novartis scandal rocks Greek politics

Novartis scandal rocks Greek politics

The political agenda and media headlines switched to the Novartis scandal on Tuesday, following a decision by prosecutors investigating alleged kickbacks by the Greek subsidiary of the pharmaceutical giant, to forward the case file to Parliament, given that eight former ministers and two past prime ministers are reportedly included in the ongoing judicial probe.

The issue sparked political uproar with the opposition accusing the government of meddling in the Justice system and blatantly attempting to change the agenda, using slander against political opponents.

According to local news outlets, three “protected” witnesses, who are not named, testified that 3 out of the 10 Prime Ministers and Ministers involved in the case were bribed with a total amount of 40 million euros for the supply of vaccines by Novartis.

As reported, another 30 people, including General Secretaries, Committee Members, advisors, governors of public services etc., were involved in the case. The total bribes from Novartis appear to have reached 50-60 million euros, with witnesses supporting that the money was channeled through suitcases.

Besides, there is also information that the trial brief concludes that the losses incurred by the Greek State from the Novartis case reach about 3 billion euros, during the period of 2000-2015.

Former PM Antonis Samaras announced that he will sue Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Alternate Justice Minister, Dimitris Papangelopoulos. Specifically, Samaras stated: “The conspiracy and the conspirators were revealed with the opening of the file. This is the most ruthless and ridiculous plot ever conceived. I will file a lawsuit tomorrow at the Supreme Court against the collapsing Tsipras, Papangelopoulos, the former head of the Secret Service who is currently a SYRIZA Minister of Justice, and their accomplices inside and outside the judicial authorities. I understand that my presence is disturbing. Now they will understand that I will go all the way”.

New Democracy issued an announcement on Monday night accusing the government of orchestrating an attack on the main opposition party in an attempt to change the agenda. New Democracy revealed that an associate to the government spokesman, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, was seen visiting the Supreme Court yesterday, before its decision to forward the case to parliament.

Justice Minister, Stavros Kontonis, said the Novartis case is even greater than the Siemens scandal, while deputy Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos said the statute of limitations has not expired, which means that politicians involved will be probed, all of whom have denied any wrongdoing and accused the government of attempting a “cheap political diversion”.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called an emergency joint meeting of the SYRIZA Political Council and Parliamentary Group on Wednesday, to discuss latest developments. The PM plans to brief his party on the details of the Novartis case and determine next moves./IBNA