Centre-Left Movement for Change MP and former health minister Andreas Loverdos, an associate professor of constitutional law at Panteio University, will be the first politician to testify as a suspect in the Novartis kickbacks case.
Loverdos is scheduled to be questioned by Corruption Prosecutor Eleni Touloupakis on 2 May and will offer unsworn testimony regarding his actions as health minister.
The MP has declared his innocence and supported the lifting of his parliamentary immunity in order to be investigated by the judiciary. He has underlined that his and his family’s bank accounts have been audited and that no evidence of improper transactions was found.
Greek law states that when the judiciary finds even the mere mention of the name of a politician in a criminal investigation the case file must immediately be sent to Parliament which then decides whether the MPs parliamentary immunity will be lifted to allow the judiciary to investigate and if warranted to prosecute.
The report of the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office which sent the Loverdos file to Parliament described the act of bribe-taking of which protected witnesses (one of whom is now as suspect) accused the former minister.
Loverdos will have the right during his first meeting with Touloupaki to request time to review the evidence in the case file and prepare his written responses to the allegations.
Although the MP will be testifying as a suspect, no charges have yet been filed as the decision whether to prosecute will be largely based on his explanations and responses to the allegations.
Of the ten politicians whose cases were sent back to the judiciary for further investigation, five of the cases were shut for lack of evidence. The remaining five are those of former PM Antonis Samaras (New Democracy, former health ministers Dimitris Avramopoulos (now a European Commissioner, New Democracy), Adonis Georgiadis (currently VP of New Democracy), and Marios Salmas (New Democracy), and former finance minister Yannis Stournaras (currently Governor of the Bank of Greece, the country’s central bank).