Investors urge Novartis to exert moral influence

Investors urge Novartis to exert moral influence

Several Novartis shareholders urged the Swiss drugmaker on Friday to improve its oversight of staff, amid a widening probe into allegations that managers paid bribes to doctors and public officials in Greece.

Greece’s Parliament voted last week to investigate 10 politicians in the case, in addition to an ongoing probe of the Basel-based company after a raid a year ago of its offices in Athens.

Last weekend, about 30 self-proclaimed Greek anarchists threw paint and smashed windows at the entrance of the company’s Athens headquarters.

The Rouvikonas group said the attack was linked to the bribery probe.

Mike Moran of Suishare, a small not-for-profit shareholders group that focuses on business ethics, told Novartis’s board of directors on Friday he was worried the investigation could prove to be a long-term headache for the company.

“I think the Greek thing will be the swamp that keeps on giving,” Moran said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Other investors also expressed concern, with one calling for executives to exert greater “moral influence” after a series of costly legal problems.


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