Two Greek politicians in alleged Novartis scandal solved

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ATHENS — As two Greek investigative journalists are being questioned for reporting on an alleged scandal surrounding Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, two politicians charged in the case have been cleared.

Financial prosecutors have halted an investigation into two prominent members of the ruling New Democracy government, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis and former European Commissioner Dimitri Avramopoulos.

They were among 10 rivals to the former radical ruling party SYRIZA who said the case was the biggest scandal in modern Greek history despite a lack of evidence, with the targets claiming it was a a political witch hunt before it collapses.

Investigators said there was no evidence beyond the word of suspected whistleblowers who said they believed the politicians took bribes, but prosecutors were not able to prove or discover.

The case investigated whether someone had taken money from Novartis – which the company has denied – to increase its share of the drug market in Greece, which has sparked accusations back and forth between the parts.

Prosecutors said testimony from protected witnesses – whose identities were meant to be kept confidential before two names were released – who said they heard the politicians taking money.

Investigators said Georgiadis, a former health minister, did not favor Novartis or harm the interests of competing companies and there was no indication he was bribed.

Prosecutors also said analysis of Avramopoulos’ accounts revealed no payments from Novartis, although the case has dragged on for several years and shows no signs of ending.

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