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Pharma Greek politicians named in Novartis scandal

building

The so-called Schweizerhalle, a Novartis factory in Muttenz

(© KEYSTONE / GEORGIOS KEFALAS)

Greece's parliament has linked ten prominent politicians to a bribery scandal involving Swiss drug-maker Novartis.

The Greek parliament announced on Tuesday the results of a judicial investigation into alleged bribes paid to public officials by Basel-based Novartisexternal link over nearly a decade to boost subscriptions of their products at public hospitals.

+ Novartis has recently swapped CEOs

"This is a massive scandal that has stunned Greek society," government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said.

Under Greek law, politicians do not face prosecution directly from judicial authorities. Allegations must first be referred to parliament for review before lawmakers vote to strip the accused of their automatic immunity.

The politicians named include current Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras and EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, plus former conservative prime minister Antonis Samaras, the caretaker prime minister Panagiotos Pikramenos in 2012 and five former health ministers. They have all denied the allegations.

Samaras, the former conservative prime minister who served between 2012 and 2015, said the allegations against him were politically motivated, and vowed to file a lawsuit against left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

"This is the most ruthless but also most ridiculous conspiracy ever," he said.

Novartis said it is cooperating with Greek authorities.

AP/sm

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