Politicians, officials, respond to Novartis case allegations


Former prime ministers, current and former ministers, and bankers responded strongly late on Monday on the inclusion of their names in the Novartis bribery case.

The Swiss pharmaceuticals giant is currently being investigated by Greek authorities over allegations of bribery towards public officials in the period 2006-2015.

Corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki handed over part of an ongoing investigation into Novartis that concerns allegations of corruption and bribery to Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou, after the names of two former prime ministers and eight former ministers came up, sources in the prosecution said on Monday.

According to the sources, the politicians named in the file served in the ministries of health, economy and development; the allegations include bribe and breach of faith. The case will have to be submitted to parliament, as required by the law over ministerial immunity from prosecution.

Retired senior judge Panagiotis Pikrammenos, who served as caretaker prime minister in the period between May 2012 and June 2012 before being succeeded by former prime minister Antonis Samaras, said on Monday he and the cabinet he presided over are not involved in any way in the scandal involving Swiss drugmaker Novartis.
«Neither I nor the caretaker government of the period May-June 2012 have anything to do with the scandal involving pharmaceutical company Novartis,” he said.

Former PM Samaras accuses Tsipras of slander over Novartis case

Former prime minister Antonis Samaras accused Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of slander on Monday, over the ongoing investigation into Swiss drugmaker Novartis concerning reported bribery of public officials in the period 2006-2015.
«I was informed about Mr. Tsipras’ new slander against me. And in fact, from fabricated testimonies by anonymous people. And because slander is the weapon of cowards, I tell them that they do not touch me! And they can be certain that the slanderers and those behind them will be held accountable to justice,” he told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).

Central banker says he never signed any decisions related to Novartis
Central bank Governor Yannis Stournaras, who served as finance minister from July 2012 to June 2014, said he never signed any decisions remotely related to Swiss drugmaker Novartis, which is currently being investigated by Greek authorities over allegations of bribery towards public officials in the period 2006-2015.
«The political targeting and bullying suffered by me and my family for three years now has its limits. During my term as finance minister I never signed any decision directly or indirectly related to Novartis. Incidentally, based on the law, the minister of finance has no relevant competence,” Stournaras said in a statement.

Commissioner Avramopoulos says was not involved in pricing of drugs in Novartis case

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Monday that the pricing of pharmaceutical products was not in the health ministry’s jurisdiction during his tenure as health minister between 2006 and 2009.

The Commissioner was responding to reports that his name was mentioned in connection to the ongoing investigation into Swiss drugmaker Novartis, over allegations it bribed Greek officials.

«I was surprised to learn that my name was mentioned in the case into Novartis that was sent to parliament along with other names of prime ministers and ministers in the period 2006-2009. In the period that I was health minister, from 2006-2009, the policy on pharmaceuticals and their pricing was not in the health ministry’s competence and therefore I had no involvement, and could not have any [involvement] in this issue,” he said.

«The competence over drugs was granted to the ministry of health two years after my departure. Plain and simple. Therefore, there is no issue,” he added.

Former deputy PM and minister Venizelos calls inclusion of his name «a cheap political diversion”

Former deputy prime minister and minister Evangelos Venizelos lashed out at the government on Monday following the inclusion of his name in the Novartis bribery case file, responding to what he termed «the government’s barbaric assault on institutions in a rule of law.”

«As the public interest was and remains my guiding principle, I will not remain silent on the government’s barbaric assault on institutions in a rule of law which it carried out with the unfortunate assistance of judicial officials, in order to set up a cheap political diversion,” Venizelos said.

Shipping minister Kouroumblis: No involvement in Novartis bribery case

Shipping and Island Policy Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis denied any involvement in the Novartis bribery case on Monday, and said «there is absolutely no reference to my name in the case file.”

Referring to a written accusation by former health minister Andreas Loverdos, who had called on the prime minister last year to investigate the pricing of pharmaceuticals, Kouroumblis said that «I myself have called on justice to investigate possible criminal offences by pharmaceutical companies over a series of issues,” Kouroumblis said. In terms of all charges mentioned by Loverdos, he said, «I have personally answered over everything in Parliament.”

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