By Tony Rigopoulos
ATHENS (AA) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday announced he will request a preliminary investigation into an alleged scandal involving politicians and the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.
According to an FBI investigation which was sent to Greek judges, the company had bribed doctors and public officials in order to boost company’s sales towards both private customers and public healthcare system at the cost of the Greek Social Security institutions. The financial cost of the Greek state is calculated at approximately 23 billion Euros.
The FBI probed the formation of legal file by Greek authorities that included the names of eight former Greek Health, Finance and Development ministers and two former Greek prime ministers.
The suspects included former premier Antonis Samaras from the conservative New Democracy party, former interim prime minister Panagiotis Pikramenos, former Minister of Health and current New Democracy’s Vice President Adonis Georgiadis, and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos.
Following the standard procedure, Greek judges sent the file to the parliament.
Tsipras delivered a speech on Monday to his party's lawmakers, announcing a request for parliamentary investigation into the allegations against politicians.
Such an investigation could result in their prosecution, should adequate indications arise.
"Following the forwarding of the case by the Public Prosecutor towards the parliament, only one institutional path exists: the establishment of a preliminary examination committee to verify whether there are satisfactory indications of offenses", Tsipras said.
"Our country ended up bankrupt because of the moral decline, the degeneration of a whole political system that never hesitated to reproduce itself at the expense of society and the public interest".
The alleged scandal has created a very intense political atmosphere in Greece since the politicians, who are mentioned in the file, are in most cases, still serving in prominent positions and are prominent figures in their parties.
Next week, parliament is expected to assemble in full caucus, in order to ratify the PM’s request.
American and Greek authorities have investigated Novartis following whistleblower testimonies. Whistleblowers have since been considered protected witnesses and their identities officially remain unknown.
American authorities are prosecuting Novartis under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).