ATHENS – With no evidence of wrongdoing being produced yet by three whisteblowers who said 10 rival politicians of the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA took bribes from the Swiss drug company Novartis, a Parliament committee is reviewing the case to see if there had been any meddling involved.
The panel excluded two SYRIZA lawmakers, the party’s former spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos and embattled former minister Pavlos Polakis, who’s facing charges he unawfully taped a phone call with Bank of Greece Gov. Yannis Stournaras – one of the accused, nine of whom have already been cleared.
The SYRIZA MP’s were rejected for having a conflict of interest but the party was furious they weren’t included.
Konstantinos Frouzis, Novartis’ former Vice-President and General Manager for its Greece operations, said he had been squeezed to implicate the accused and SYRIZA former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos denied charges by a former anti-corruption prosecutor he intervened.
Top corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki ordered bribery charges brought against Movement for Change (KINAL) MP Andreas Loverdos as part of the Novartis probe, the only of the accused not cleared but as he said he was the victim of a witch hunt and denied any wrongdoing. Parliament, as it did in Polakis’ case, lifted his immunity, allowed for prosecution.
The move came a day after a Supreme Court prosecutor called for the probe into the Novartis case to be sent to an investigating judge at the highest level.
Loverdos is being investigated in connection with alleged bribes during his term as health minister from April 2011 to May 2012 but has sued the witnesses, two of whose identities haven’t been revealed, accusing them of slander and perjury.
In September, he also filed a lawsuit against Touloupaki and two more judicial officials over their handling of the Novartis bribery case, accusing her of abuse of power and dereliction of duty for the way she handled the whistleblower allegations.