NEWS

Novartis case breaking down

IOANNA MANDROU

TAGS: Crime, Health, Justice

Greek corruption prosecutors on Monday shelved a large part of the case regarding the alleged bribery scandal involving Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis and 10 senior Greek politicians.

The case file, which was sent on Monday to the Greek Parliament for further investigation, only includes the name of former health minister Andreas Loverdos.

The news was seen as a setback for the SYRIZA-led government ahead of next month’s local and European elections as its narrative – aimed mainly against New Democracy – that the case is the “biggest scandal since the establishment of the Greek state” has fallen by the wayside.

ND said it was biggest scam ever set up by a Greek government against its political opponents.

More specifically, prosecutors on Monday cleared four of the 10 politicians – former ministers Evangelos Venizelos, Andreas Lykouretzos and Georgios Koutroumanis and former premier Panagiotis Pikrammenos.

The case still remains open for five other politicians – former New Democracy premier Antonis Samaras, former finance minister and current Bank of Greece Governor Yiannis Stournaras, European Union Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, former minister and current vice president of New Democracy Adonis Georgiadis and former minister Marios Salmas.

However, judicial sources said that no evidence has emerged that the five received bribes or violated the law. At least four of them are expected to be cleared by prosecutors by the end of April at the latest.

Judicial sources sought to clarify on Monday that the fact Loverdos’s name is in the case file in no way means he will face prosecution as no deposits were found in his bank accounts – no properties of dubious origin were linked to him either – that would suggest he received bribes.

The case against him and all the other implicated politicians was built on witness accounts and suggestion inferred by prosecutors that studied the case file.

The sources said that Loverdos’s case will be decided upon after he is called to provide explanations.

An internal investigation by Novartis found last month that there was no evidence of bribery of Greek state officials.

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