Novartis pays up in bribery scandal

The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis and its former subsidiary Alcon have agreed to pay 345 million euros to US justice authorities to end a probe into allegations that they paid state-run hospital and clinic employees in Greece bribes between 2012 and 2015. The allegations have not been cleared up one way or another. Greek media examine the political repercussions of the scandal.

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Avgi (GR) /

A huge scandal

For the left-wing daily Avgi - which is close to Syriza - it's obvious that Nea Dimokratia and Pasok were complicit:

“If the trial in the US has shown anything, it's that the Novartis case was not just a complot [initiated by Syriza] as it was portrayed in Greece, but a scandal of the first degree. A scandal that actually took place in our country, which is why the bulk of the heavy fine imposed concerns the activities of Novartis Hellas. It is also clear that the scandal took place under the Samaras-Venizelos government, in the most difficult years of the austerity memorandum. While Greek society was groaning, Novartis was making enormous profits with cover from the government.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Syriza messed up

If the Left hadn't tried to exploit the case for party political purposes after it became public in 2018, the Greek state would probably have received compensation, the pro-government daily Kathimerini points out angrily:

“Despite attempts at a 'creative' translation [by supporters of Syriza] the conclusion of the US decision on Novartis is merciless: Greece failed to expose an unfair business practices scandal because the former [Syriza] government tried to use the case as a tool for criminalising its political opponent. In the end all that was left was swirling dust, without the state gaining anything from the scandal. This is not the first time this has happened. It was the same with the Siemens scandal.”