Basel, Switzerland: Novartis internal investigation did not divulge gifts to Greek officials

The Swiss Pharmaceutics conglomerate Novartis AG published results of its internal investigation. The company initiated an internal investigation amid intense media criticism for its ties with bribed Greek politicians who were alleged to have received considerable amounts of money from Novartis to promote in exchange the company’s interests in the domestic pharmaceutical market. The result of the internal probe showed no evidence of bribery to Greek officials. This represents a thorny issue for Greece’s domestic political environment in anticipation of the four upcoming elections to be held by the end of 2019.

Novartis Probes Around the World

Greek judicial authorities have also initiated a parallel probe to examine the alleged ties with Novartis of former Prime Ministers, Health Ministers and a European Union Commissioner. The U.S. authorities have also undertaken similar investigations. So far, the investigation results in the company’s headquarters in Basel, Switzerland indicate that the pharmaceutics giant did not receive any favourable treatment (in terms of preferential pricing of its medications) from the Greek medical authorities. The report also dismissed former allegations that the company has made ‘inappropriate payments’ to Greek government officials.

The Swiss conglomerate has taken active steps to overhaul its business ties with external consultants, political lobbyists and state officials after judicial probes were initiated against the multinational firm in a number of countries. Ever since his rise to the company’s leading position, CEO Vas Narasimhan pledged to work closely with affected governments to improve the conglomerate’s reputation and dissociate any allegations made by the media over the presence of inappropriate payments given in exchange for preferential treatment. In the U.S., security authorities initiated a probe after Novartis officials were associated with inappropriate payments given to a firm led by the former lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump, Mr. Michael Cohen.

Novartis Scandal in Greece

In Greece judicial investigations on the company still ensue. The scandal came into public spotlight in early 2016 when lists with doctor names who have received gifts from Novartis were about to be disseminated to the press. So far, more than 4.000 doctors appear to have received payment slips of €1.000 to €5.000 from the Swiss conglomerate as part of their services for prescribing company medications to patients. Indicative losses for Greece’s National Healthcare System may have exceeded €3 billion. Criminal investigations examine the role of ten politicians in the Novartis circle including among others former Finance and Health Ministers, a Head of the Greek Central Bank and a Prime Minister.

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