Greece: Senior Politicians Named in Medicine Scandal Probe

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s parliament has named two former prime ministers and eight former ministers — including current Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras and EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos— as being linked to a major medical bribery scandal.

Parliament on Tuesday announced the results of a judicial investigation into alleged bribes paid to public officials by Swiss drug-maker Novartis over nearly a decade to boost subscriptions of their products at public hospitals and sales prices.

“This is a massive scandal that has stunned Greek society,” government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said.

Under Greek law, politicians do not face prosecution directly from judicial authorities. Allegations must first be referred to parliament for review before lawmakers vote to strip the accused of their automatic immunity.

The politicians named include former conservative prime minister Antonis Samaras, the caretaker prime minister Panagiotos Pikramenos in 2012 and five former health ministers, including Avramopoulos. Stournaras was finance minister before moving to the central bank post.

They have all denied the allegations.

Samaras, the former conservative prime minister who served between 2012 and 2015, said the allegations against him were politically motivated, and vowed to file a lawsuit against left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“This is the most ruthless but also most ridiculous conspiracy ever,” he said.

Novartis said it is cooperating with Greek authorities.

A deputy speaker of parliament, Tasia Christodoulopoulou, read out the names at a Tuesday session. She said the alleged offences included bribery and breach of duty, but didn’t give any further details.

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