Novartis Whistleblower Has No Proof Bribes Given Politicians

FILE - Rouvikonas' members threw paint and smashing windows of an office of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, Feb. 25, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – Dressed in garb and mask like the anarchist character in the movie V for Vendetta, a witness in the unraveling alleged scandal around the Swiss drug company testified before police but said there’s no proof political rivals of the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA took bribes.

The witness is one of three self-claimed whistleblowers who had said bribes were given despite not offering a shred of evidence and their identities are protected, despite efforts by some of the targets to unmask them.

One was revealed when police stopped him at the Athens international airport trying to get to Spain but despite no proof being offered, former premier and leftist leader Alexis Tsipras said bribes were given in what he called the biggest scandal in modern Greek history.

During his testimony at Greek Police headquarters (GADA) in Athens, the protected witness, known by the pseudonym Maximos Sarafis, is understood to have said that he possesses no evidence of politicians receiving money, describing his claims as “speculation,” said Kathimerini.

But other sources the paper didn’t name said the witness then simultaneously claimed that Novartis wanted to fix prices in Greece but no evidence was given for that either other than the whistleblower’s making the same allegations to a corruption prosecutor.

A second witness, known by the pseudonym Ekatrini Kelesi, was expected to testify on Feb. 25 although earlier reports said both had made their claims by saying they overheard someone else say the politicians took bribes.

A parliamentary panel is looking into whether former alternative justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos meddled in the case when SYRIZA was in power, with prosecutors and former prosecutors also swapping charges of political interference.

Seven of the 10 accused, including former premier and then New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, have been cleared but the case is still pending before prosecutors.