Novartis Whistleblower, Now Suspect, Barred from Leaving Greece

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 – An unmasked whistleblower who is one of three who said 10 rival politicians of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition took bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has lost an appeal against a court-ordered travel ban.

Former Health Ministry advisor Nikos Maniadakis, who was stopped earlier at the international airport as he was trying to get to Madrid where it was said he worked, is being charged with bribery and embezzlement and had his passport taken away.

In an extensive statement, Nikos Maniadakis tried to assure judges that he was not a flight risk and pointed to what he called failings by prosecutors in the investigation and contradictions leading him to be called a suspect instead of a witness, said Kathimerini.

The investigation concerns allegations the drugmaker bribed doctors and public officials, including two former Prime Ministers and Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras, 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 whose identities were being kept secret under whistleblower laws although they haven’t produced a shred of evidence reportedly beyond hearsay testimony and one is said to be changing her story.

Maniadakis told Skai TV earlier in the month that the charges of accepting bribes that have been brought against him are politically motivated but refused to say who was allegedy behind that either.