Former executives of the pharmaceutical company Novartis were on Monday acquitted of the charges of bribing politicians and doctors through a Misdemeanours Court Justices’ Council order that officially put an end to the so-called “Novartis scandal”, more than seven years after the judicial investigation began.
At the same time, however, the Financial Prosecutors department has asked that 15 doctors under investigation for taking money to prescribe Novartis products should face criminal charges for accepting bribes and legalising income from illegal activities, based on evidence that has been found against them.
The judges’ council found that the senior executive of the Greek branch of Novartis, Konstantinos Frouzis, Prof. Nikos Maniadakis and three executives of the parent firm Novartis were not guilty of acting in concert to commit repeated acts of bribery in relation to 10 politicians investigated for accepting bribes. They ordered the acquittal of the accused due to a lack of evidence against them.
They had been accused of bribing former prime minister Antonis Samaras, caretaker Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, former health minister Andreas Lykourentzos, former alternate health minister Marios Salmas, former finance minister Yannis Stournaras, former national defence minister, finance minister and deputy prime minister Evangelos Venizelos, former labour minister Georgios Koutroumanis, former health minister Adonis Georgiadis, former health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and former health minister Andreas Loverdos.
The five accused Novartis executives were also cleared on charges of bribing non-political persons as, following a change in the penal code in 2019, this is now classed as a misdemeanour and became statute-barred after five-year period had elapsed.
For the doctors involved, however, the financial prosecutor has asked the First-instance Court Prosecutors’ Department to draw up criminal charges against 15 under investigation, based on evidence found against them, while an investigation into other doctors involved in the case is still ongoing.