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Accused Greek Commissioner Wants Novartis Whistleblowers Named

February 1, 2019

ATHENS – European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos has asked a Greek prosecutor to reveal the identity of two secret whistleblowers who accused him and nine other rival politicians of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of taking bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.

With no evidence yet produced beyond the claims of the two secret witnesses, and a third who was identified while stopped trying to leave the country and now implicated in a bribery and embezzlement charge, the accused have claimed the government is trying to use the case to distract attention from its failings during an election year, with SYRIZA far behind the major rival New Democracy Conservatives.

The names of the alleged whistleblowers are being kept private under laws allowing people alleging wrongdoing to be protected from possible retaliation.

The request from Avramopoulos, a veteran member of New Democracy, was lodged with Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Panagiotis Brakoumatsos, who took over as head of the corruption prosecution’s office after his predecessor Yiannis Angelis resigned.

Avramopoulos also asked Brakoumatsos to follow through with a lawsuit he filed in February 2018 against two of the witnesses for perjury, libel and false accusation as others named are also suing.

Former Health Ministry advisor Nikos Maniadakis, who was stopped 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.

He 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.

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

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