Novartis case file presented in Parliament as probe continues
The file on Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis that concerns allegations of corruption and bribery and is currently being investigated by prosecutors will not be made public but party representatives and other interested parties will be able to read the file in a designated space in parliament, the House’s vice-president Tasia Christodoulopoulou said on Tuesday, as she presented the file at the plenum.
On Monday, prosecutors sent the part of the case to parliament, after the names of 10 politicians came up during the investigation. The case includes evidence pointing to the payment of kickbacks amounting to roughly 50 million euros, prosecution sources indicated. According to the sources, the case file contains the testimony of 20 people, including that of three protected witnesses, on numerous bribes given between 2006 and early 2015.
The politicians named in the case, whose names were announced in parliament today, are:
-Former PM Antonis Samaras (for the period 20.06.2012 to 26.01.2015)
-Former caretaker PM Panagiotis Pikrammenos (for the period 16.05.2012 to 20.06.2012)
-Dimitris Avramopoulos, current European Commissioner for migration, for his tenure as health minister (for the period 2006-2009)
-Former health minister Andreas Loverdos (for the period 07.09.2010 to 17.05.2012)
-Former health minister Andreas Lykourentzos (for the period 21-6-2012 έως την 25-6-2013,
-Former alternate health minister (for the period 22.06.2012 to 23.06.2013)
-Former health minister Adonis Georgiadis (for the period 25.06.2013 to 09.06.2014)
-Yannis Stournaras, current central banker and former finance minister (for the period 05.07.2012 to 10.06.2014)
-Former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos (for period 17.06.2011 to 21.03.2012) and government vice-president (for the period 25.06.2013to 25.01.2015)
-Former labour and social welfare minister Giorgos Koutroumanis (for the period June 2011 to May 2012)
The file also contains the allegations made by former PASOK ministers and current Democratic Coalition Andreas Loverdos, Evi Christofilopoulou and Vasilis Kegkeroglou on the lack of pricing for drugs at the start of 2015. The prosecutors are continuing to investigate charges of money laundering against a number of other individuals, such as doctors, middlemen and others.
Investigators have calculated that the total damage incurred by the state as a result of the illegal practices of pharmaceutical companies after 2000 is in the region of 23 billion euros while the damage specifically involving Novartis amounts to 3.0 billion euros.
The Novartis scandal is a major issue that could well prove even bigger than the Siemens scandal, Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis said on Tuesday in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA). As he said, it involved a greater loss of money for the Greek state and greater moral degradation. In a period of time when the citizens were unable to have access to drugs, some people were pricing them excessively. This overcosting also affected the price of drugs in 29 countries, he added. Therefore, the case has moral, financial and international implications, he said.
Government sources on Tuesday said that main opposition New Democracy was “in a panic and showing it,” while commenting on the party’s reaction to the Novartis case.
The same sources noted that the “Novartis scandal is not Greek but international, and as Greece was the country of reference for the pricing of medicines in 29 countries, it was the crucial country.” Authorities in Greece and foreign countries are now investigating the pricing method used and “whether politicans have been bribed at the expense of patients and the country’s health system,” the sources added.
“ND allegations about intervention in justice are at best comical,” said the same sources, explaining that “there can be no intervention in the work of justice after the drafting of the casefile, the moment of its submission to parliament and the implication alone is a direct insult to the prosecutors and judges that have been working hard for months. Besides, justice keeps parliament informed on the progress of penal cases.”
“The government wants nothing more than the law to be upheld and for light to get to the bottom of a major international scandal. It is our hope that everyone wants the same,” said government sources.