Greek Cops Raid Home of Unmasked Novartis Whistleblower

FILE - Greece’s lawmakers voted and approved a probe into an alleged scandal in which prosecutors allege that 10 politicians took bribes from the pharmaceutical company Novartis. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS – A formerly secret witness who was one of three alleged whistleblowers charging 10 rival politicians of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition took bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis was charged with the same offense after police raided his house Jan. 3.

Academic and former Health Ministry advisor Nikos Maniadakis is being accused by two other protected witnesses that he had accepted 120,000 euros ($136,100) from Novartis as payment for influencing the government’s health policies, Kathimerini reported, citing judicial sources who weren’t identified.

His house has also been searched in the past. His lawyer, Theodoros Mandas, said his client would cooperate with authorities.

Maniadakis, whose identity was being kept secret as a whistleblower, appeared on SKAI TV on Jan. 2 and said he was pressured by judicial authorities he didn’t name to reveal whether prominent Greek politicians had received money from the Swiss drugmaker, adding that he believed his involvement was “politically motivated.”

The witnesses, who are not being named as some of the accused are seeking to lift the veil of secrecy protecting them, haven’t produced a shred of evidence with reports they told prosecutors they had heard the politicians they named had taken money.

The former advisor was stopped trying to flee to Switzerland and charged with bribe taking under the Greek embezzlement law and had his passport taken away but there were no reports whether he was arrested or detained.

He  had provided information to corruption prosecutors investigating the practices adopted by the company to dominate the Greek market.

New evidence, however, led authorities to charge him with passive bribery, aggravated by the provisions pertaining to state embezzlers, the same sources said.

The investigation concerns allegations that the drugmaker bribed Greek doctors and prominent public officials to increase its access to the Greek market and sell its products at inflated prices. It is largely based on the testimonies of the three key witnesses.

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