US judicial officials heading to Athens for briefing


Representatives of the US Justice Department are expected in Athens this week to be briefed on the progress of an investigation into alleged corruption by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis revealed over the weekend.

Earlier this month Greek authorities sought the assistance of the US Justice Department, which, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), first launched an investigation into the NYSE-listed drugmaker two years ago.

In his comments to reporters on Saturday, Kontonis described the alleged scandal involving Novartis as “much more significant and more serious than Siemens,” referring to a major cash-for-contracts scandal involving the German electronics and telecommunications firm.

According to Kontonis, the Greek state has suffered significant losses at a time that poor Greeks lack access to medicines while pharmaceutical firms have increased their profits by between 25 and 30 percent. Greek and US investigators aim to determine the extent to which medicines were overpriced, Kontonis said.