Novartis Probe Finds No Trace of Payoffs to Greek Officials

Eleni Chrepa and Sotiris Nikas

(Bloomberg) -- Novartis AG said its own internal investigation found no evidence of bribery to Greek state officials as an upcoming election puts the Swiss drugmaker back in the spotlight.

Greece is investigating reports of payoffs by Novartis in a high-profile case that implicates two of the country’s former prime ministers and a European Union commissioner. The U.S. is investigating similar allegations.

Novartis didn’t receive preferential pricing from the Greek state and to date has been unable to identify any “inappropriate payments” to government officials, a local spokesperson said in an email. Under Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan, the drugmaker is working to overhaul the way it does business with consultants, lobbyists and officials after becoming entangled in another scandal in the U.S. over payments to a firm led by President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.

Greece’s investigation is still ongoing, as is Novartis’s. Details of the case, which was first made public in 2017, are resurfacing as Alexis Tsipras’s government and the country’s main opposition party prepare for the first elections since an international bailout ended last August. At least ten politicians are involved, including former Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who’s now the Bank of Greece Governor and a European Central Bank Governing Council member.

(Updates third and fourth paragraphs to show Novartis probe is ongoing.)

--With assistance from James Paton.

To contact the reporters on this story: Eleni Chrepa in Athens at echrepa@bloomberg.net;Sotiris Nikas in Athens at snikas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sotiris Nikas at snikas@bloomberg.net, Marthe Fourcade, John Lauerman

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