NEWS

Novartis parliamentary probe enters final phase on Friday

BOURDARAS GIORGOS

TAGS: Politics, Justice

The long-running saga of a parliamentary investigation into a bribery scandal involving the Swiss drugs manufacturer Novartis will enter its final phase on Friday, as the House will meet to discuss and vote on the final committee report.

The investigation concerns allegations that Novartis bribed 10 prominent politicians, doctors and public officials to increase its access to the Greek market and sell its products at inflated prices.

In mid-April, a panel set up to look into the case concluded it was not competent to investigate the allegations and that the file should be returned to judicial authorities.

Lawmakers are bracing for a fiery debate, during which they will hear from at least eight of the 10 current or former lawmakers named in the case, who will either speak or submit a statement.

Those include former premier Antonis Samaras and former ministers Evangelos Venizelos, Adonis Georgiadis, Giorgos Koutroumanis, Andreas Loverdos, Andreas Lykourentzos and Yannis Stournaras – currently governor of the Bank of Greece – who are expected to take the podium, and European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who will submit his response in writing.

The opposition is expected to slam the government for its decision to introduce 10 separate ballots at the end of the debate – a move seen as unnecessary considering the case will be returned to the courts.

Although it has not been made explicit, it appears a “No” vote would confirm the report’s findings, according to which Parliament is not competent to investigate the affair.

It is expected that the “No” ballot will include a sentence on the panel’s inability to examine the case, raising further criticism from the opposition, as the parliamentary rules don’t allow MPs to explain their decisions during voting.

The parliament session is expected to start at 10 a.m. on Friday and conclude at 5 p.m. with a vote.

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