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Society

Novartis Greece’s Secretary Says No Bribes Paid to Politicians

November 28, 2019

ATHENS – Despite no evidence yet being produced, a probe into whether Greek politicians took bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis is being pressed, with a secretary to the company’s Greek operation saying it didn’t happen.

Testifying before a Parliament committee looking into the case – with nine of 10 of the accused already cleared – Maria Maraggeli reportedly said she never saw a “Samsonite (carry on) with cash” to be delivered to an ex-prime minister.

She had been the secretary to Novartis Greece’s former Vice-President and General Manager Constantinos Frouzis, who hadn’t been questioned by a prosecutor despite his position overseeing the company’s operation in Greece.

She denied she is one of three whistleblowers – two of whom remain secret – who made the claim that 10 rivals of the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA took money before the Leftists took power said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.

Former premier and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras seized on that to accuse his rival of taking bribes, calling it the “biggest scandal in the Modern Greek state history,” although it was based on hearsay evidence.

Asked why she didn’t seek legal recourse against a bevy of media reports claiming she was one of the still anonymous witnesses, Maraggeli said she couldn’t afford a lawyer to challenge the allegations, the paper said.

During his testimony earlier this month, Frouzis told committee members that he left “disappointed” after his unofficial meeting with anti-corruption chief prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki and two other associate prosecutors in 2018.

In the closed-door session, he reportedly said he inferred from Touloupaki’s stance that she was only interested in information involving politicians as she kept up an investigation the targets said was a political witch hunt, several of them suing.

Frouzis directly charged, according to media reports, that the allegations made by the three anonymous witnesses proved to be baseless, at least in seven of the nine already closed cases and reportedly declined to call the case a conspiracy as SYRIZA had.

He was implicated as the man ordering kickbacks be funneled to politicians, and even that he personally took them suitcases stuffed with cash but Touloupaki hasn’t asked him to testify to her.

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