NEWS

Advertising executive testifies in Novartis bribery case

IOANNA MANDROU

TAGS: Justice, Corruption

The owner of an advertising agency gave his testimony to a corruption prosecutor in Athens as part of the Novartis probe on Wednesday, during which he argued that he had never paid any bribes to politicians accused of allegedly taking bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical firm in exchange for preferential treatment.

The executive, who stands accused of laundering the bribe money, said that over the course of five years he had given a specific Novartis executive round 400,000 euros from money his advertising agency had initially received from the pharmaceutical firm as payment for ads. He said the Novartis executive was not Constantinos Frouzis, the former general manager of the firm's Greek branch.

Sources said the witness also denied over-charging Novartis or issuing fake invoices.

Another four suspects who were members of committees responsible for pricing medicines in the Greek market appeared before the same prosecutor on Wednesday. Their testimonies did not produce evidence incriminating politicians.

Ten politicians have been accused by three unnamed witnesses for taking bribes from Novartis, though several months of investigations have failed to turn up any evidence to back these claims.

Judicial sources have told Kathimerini that the cases against former conservative prime minister Antonis Samaras and former finance minister Yannis Stournaras, currently the governor of the Bank of Greece, have been dropped, though no official announcements have been made yet.

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