The Greek Parliament has halted probe into Novartis bribes case in which ten politicians are allegedly involved. The Parliamentary investigation committee consisting of coalition government lawmakers decided that the Parliament does not have the jurisdiction to investigate the money laundering and bribery claims. The case file was sent back to Justice and into the hands of the anti-corruption prosecutor who investigates the case. “The probe is not over” a SYRIZA lawmaker told media on Wednesday pointing out at the prosecutor.
According to naftemporiki, the controversial decision by the coalition majority in Greece’s Parliament last month to establish a committee of inquiry to investigate felony allegations against 10 top lawmakers – all named in an indictment compiled an anti-corruption prosecutor tasked with the Novartis kickbacks and bribery investigation – ended in an anti-climatic fashion on Tuesday.
A majority of the members on the committee, who belong to the ruling SYRIZA party and its right-wing junior coalition partner, the AN.EL party, decided that Parliament does not, after all, have the jurisdiction to investigate the specific money laundering and bribery claims found in the indictment.
The allegations, against a former prime minister, a former finance minister and successive health ministers, among others, in governments prior to January 2015, were made by three “protected witnesses” during the last phase of now three-year investigation.
In announcing the arrival of the indictment to Parliament, top government ministers at the time had alleged that the Novartis case was the “biggest corruption scandal” in the modern Greek state’s history – that would be 1830 to the present.
As such, the case file returns to the justice system, and specifically back on the desk of the anti-corruption prosecutor that sent it to Parliament because it includes charges against elected office-holders for offenses allegedly committed during their tenure in ministerial positions.
The opposition has sharply criticized the poll-trailing Tsipras government of mud-slinging and lobbing charges against political opponents as a means of diverting public opinion from other issues, such as the economy.