By Furkan Naci Top
ATHENS, Greece (AA) - The parliament on Thursday voted to form an inquiry commission to probe 10 politicians in connection with allegations involving the global healthcare company, Novartis.
The company has been accused of bribing politicians, bureaucrats and doctors, and also of inflating medicine prices.
The discussions in the parliament about the scandal lasted for 20 hours; separate secret voting was done for each politician involved in the allegations.
Most lawmakers voted in favor of forming an inquiry commission to probe the politicians, two of whom are former prime ministers and eight are former ministers.
The commission will investigate the allegations of bribe, malpractice and money laundering for at least one month and will prepare a report.
Speaking in the parliament, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras requested support of lawmakers for the formation of a commission of inquiry.
He admitted there is a huge waste in Greece’s health sector and accused the main opposition party of hiding behind conspiracy theories.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on the other hand, accused the government of interfering in legal procedure and trying to destroy political rivals by using the Novartis scandal.
Novartis scandal involves bribery allegations worth 50 million euros ($66.5 million) and includes European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, former finance minister and current Governor of Bank of Greece Yannis Stournaras.
According to the case file submitted to the parliament, Novartis allegedly bribed politicians, senior bureaucrats and doctors between 2006 and 2015 to inflate medicine prices and to increase sales to public hospitals.
While government officials define the issue as the "greatest corruption scandal in history of Greek state," all people involved in the allegations reject the accusations and blame the government for politicizing a legal procedure.
The government officials also claim that unfair profit had been made by some people who emptied the state treasury, which in turn resulted in the country's slide into an economic crisis.
Tsipras previously said the harm to the Greek treasury because of inflated medicine prices and hoarding up of medicines had reached 23 billion euros ($30.6 billion).