Former Greek Prosecutor Says SYRIZA Minister “Pimped” Novartis Scandal

Αssociated Press

Former Alternate Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos. Photo: Eurokinissi/Giorgos Kontarinis

ATHENS – The Radical Left SYRIZA's former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos meddled in an investigation into an alleged scandal around the Swiss drug company Novartis in which his party claimed 10 political rivals took bribes, said Greece's former corruption prosecutor Eleni Raikou.

She presented evidence, said Kathimerini, indicating that Papangelopoulos had used his influence, “in the manner of a pimp,” to intervene in her work on a number of cases, including the Novartis probe that has unraveled, with nine accused already cleared.

Raikou quit in 2017 with sources who weren't identified telling the paper that she claimed to have been squeezed by SYRIZA and its then-coalition partner the Independent Greeks (ANEL) over the case that former Premier Alexis Tsipras called the biggest scandal since the creation of the modern Greek state.

That was based partially on the claims of four whistleblowers, three of whom still remain secret, who reportedly said they had overheard that the people named by SYRIZA and Tsipras, including two former Premiers and Bank of Greece Gov. Yannis Stournaras took money, but not a shred of evidence has been presented yet.

Raikou testified before a Supreme Court deputy prosecutor investigating judicial officials’ handling of the allegations which the accused said was a fake scandal concocted to get them and return Tsipras to power, which failed when he was ousted in July 7 snap elections.

“Exploiting his political power, in the manner of a pimp, he would dictate how certain important cases needed to be handled, demanding in some cases that criminal charges be brought at once,” Raikou reportedly told Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Lambros Sofoulakis of Pangelopoulos.

The former minister earlier denied everything and said there’s no proof he did anything wrong, claiming that “This is an unprecedented attempt at a vengeful political persecution. The absence of any proof in the case file against me and against (former PM) Alexis Tsipras make this sordidness ridiculous.”

Papangelopoulos said the government is trying to “hide the truth” and “distract the Greek public in order to conceal the serious responsibilities not just in the Novartis scandal, but also in its investigation,” but still didn’t offer any evidence of any wrongdoing.

Raikou said that investigations carried out under her purview had turned up a bank account in Novartis' name that showed payments to doctors and other individuals, though none to politicians, the report added.

Raikou’s testimony is expected to be sent to Parliament, which is conducting an investigation into Papangelopoulos’ alleged involvement while Sofoulakis also heard from Stournaras who said he was the victim of a political frame-up.