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Society

Secret Witness in Novartis Case Charged With Taking Bribes

January 2, 2019

ATHENS – A former Greek health ministry adviser who is one of three secret whistleblowers who accused political rivals of the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of taking bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has been charged with taking money.

The alleged witness, who hasn’t provided a shred of evidence, wasn’t identified despite being charged with passive bribery under a law covering public embezzlement and had his passport take away as he and wife were heading for Madrid, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.

It wasn’t reported whether he was arrested or detained or if the alleged bribes were given to have the accusations made against the rival politicians, including former Premier and then New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras and other critics of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who said they were involved in the biggest scandal in Greek history.

The man is apparently one of three anonymous “star witnesses” cited in an indictment brought to Parliament by an anti-corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki who said she’s basing her case on their word they may have overheard talk the rival politicians, some of whom are wealthy, took money from Novartis.

That was ostensibly done to fix prices for the company’s drugs in Greece, where is has a dominant position, but the case so far is based entirely on the word of the whistleblowers whose identity is protected by law.

They also named Kostantinos Frouzis, Novartis Greece’s former Executive Vice-president, as overseeing the kickbacks and bribes but he, along with two doctors in the state health system, has been acquitted and wasn’t called to testify against the politicians named.

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