The article describes the course of the Novartis case, in which the company reached a US$347 million legal settlement with the U.S., while admitting to having bribed Greek officials and healthcare providers.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) hints at the Greek government’s suspicious handling of the Novartis scandal, while also raising questions about the stance of Greek Justice on the matter.
The publication under the title “Greek prosecutor wants Novartis whistleblowers’ identities revealed”, initially refers to the “multi-page proposal of Vasiliki Theodorou to reveal the true identities of the protected witnesses (Ekaterini Kelesi and Maximos Sarafis) in order to investigate alleged abuse of power by the former Deputy Minister of Justice, Dimitris Papangelopoulos “, which, however, concerns a case different from that of Novartis.
Said article describes the course of the Novartis case, in which the company reached a US$347 million legal settlement with the U.S., while admitting to having bribed Greek officials and healthcare providers. It is highlighted that, in fact, the total cost of the Novartis case for Greece is estimated at about €3 billion, despite the fact that the Greek economy was facing a severe financial crisis at the time.
It is stressed that “in the settlement, Novartis acknowledged making illegal payments to Greek officials and healthcare providers but the settlement did not explicitly address what anti-corruption prosecutors have been investigating since 2017: whether several high-ranking politicians were bribed in the scandal”.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project notes that “former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of the right-wing New Democracy party, who was accused ( by protected witnesses) of being bribed with suitcases stuffed with cash while he was in power from 2012 to 2015, had pushed back vehemently against all allegations”.
“Those accused of bribery have repeatedly referred to the whistleblowers by the derogatory term ‘hood-wearers’ – a term often used for Nazi collaborators in Greece during World War II,” the text reads.
The article also comments meaningfully on Dimitris Papagelopoulos’ case, initially pointing out that under the SYRIZA government, Mr. Papangelopoulos – then Minister of Justice – called Novartis the “biggest scandal since the establishment of the Greek State”.
However, when SYRIZA lost power and the government was taken over by Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy, the Novartis case was undermined and a new one opened, in which “the investigator became the investigated”.
The article emphasizes that there is no doubt that the two cases are not related to each other, citing a statement by Dimitris Papadimitriou, a politics professor at the University of Manchester.
“It is clear that these two cases are unrelated to each other and therefore the protection enjoyed by the two witnesses in the Novartis case cannot be extended to the case being investigated by the Special Court investigator”.
Moreover, the publication states that the proposal of Vasiliki Theodorou is similar to the request for the disclosure of the witnesses’ identity submitted by Antonis Samaras, Yannis Stournaras, Evangelos Venizelos, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and Adonis Georgiadis.
The article ends by pointing out that Eleni Touloupaki was the last one to investigate the aforementioned politicians as an anti-corruption prosecutor, examining their involvement in the Novartis case, for which “she faced incredible pushback, criminal charges from the New Democracy party, while she was expelled from her position through a bill “.