Greek parliament to probe 10 politicians over Novartis case

Greece’s parliament voted early on Thursday to set up a committee that will investigate politicians, including former prime ministers, over allegations of bribery by the Swiss drugmaker Novartis.

Former Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras addresses lawmakers during a parliamentary session before a vote on setting up a special committee which will probe the role of ten politicians in a case which involves alleged bribery by Swiss drugmaker Novartis, in Athens, Greece, February 21, 2018.

Court officials say staff at the firm are alleged to have bribed Greek doctors and politicians. Novartis has said that, if an investigation finds its managers acted unethically, it will take “fast and decisive action”.

The 10 socialist and conservative politicians, who served between 2006 and 2015 and have been named in parliament, deny the allegations as a fabrication and a witchhunt by the leftist-led government to discredit them before elections in 2019 – which the government, in turn, denies.

Greek prosecutors, who have investigated for more than a year, referred the case to parliament this month. Under Greek law, it is the only institution that can investigate ministers and lift their immunity.

After a 19-hour debate, a majority of lawmakers in the 300-seat house voted in favour of setting up a parliamentary committee, which will assume the role of an investigating judge, by casting votes in ten ballot boxes, one for each politician.