Novartis file takes aim at former health minister

Novartis file takes aim at former health minister

A section of the case file on the alleged Novartis bribery scandal that prosecutors forwarded to Parliament to request that the immunity of former health minister Andreas Loverdos be lifted includes testimony by protected witnesses who claim that the politician was bribed to inform the company of an imminent haircut on Greek state bonds at the peak of the debt crisis.

Complicating matters, the case file suggested that Loverdos was not health minister at the time that the alleged warning was made.

According to depositions by protected witnesses in the investigation in 2017 and 2018, Loverdos was paid to secretly inform Novartis that Greek government bonds were about to suffer heavy losses in the so-called PSI private debt writedown.

Loverdos allegedly tipped off Konstantinos Frouzis, former vice president and general manager of Novartis Greece, that the company should liquidate its bonds to minimize its losses in the PSI.

Commenting, Loverdos said he hardly knew Frouzis and would be the first to request that his immunity be lifted so that he can clear his name. “I will go face to face with them and crush them,” he said of his accusers, adding that he has the truth on his side.

He suggested that all the accusations against him are part of a pre-election smear campaign. He said he had met Frouzis once in March 2012 and that they said they would meet professionally but that it never happened.

“We had one handshake. Ten seconds. In those 10 seconds we said we would meet officially. Then the government fell, and I didn’t see him.”

Amid tensions over the Novartis affair, the Supreme Court will today decide whether to reappoint corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki, whose term is about to expire.

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