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Offices of Novartis pharmaceutical company at centre of bribery scandal Offices of Novartis pharmaceutical company at centre of bribery scandal  (AFP or licensors)

Greece: Ex Prime Ministers accused in bribery scandal

A scandal of major proportions is breaking over Greece’s political establishment, as two former prime ministers and eight ex-ministers have been accused of taking 50 million euros in bribes from Novartis, the global pharmaceutical giant.

The bribes are alleged to have been taken between 2006 and 2014, when mostly conservative administrations were in power.  There is also a charge of money laundering, which means the case has to go before the parliament here in Athens which will decide whether to take it to court.

Both former prime ministers and all the accused ministers have issued vehement denials of any wrongdoing.  They accuse the leftwing-led government of employing illegal methods for a smear campaign designed to halt the growing lead in the polls of the opposition conservative New Democracy party.

Some observers here in Athens believe the government was badly rattled by Sunday’s massive opposition-led rally in the centre of Athens, and blindly brought the Novartis issue out of mothballs to hit back.  Whatever the truth, Greek commentators believe it could be the start of the biggest sleaze scandal in this country for decades.

Listen to John Carr's report
07 February 2018, 13:56