Transparency International Greece Corruption and Novartis

In 2013, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis donated $3,400 to the anti-corruption group Transparency International Greece.

Novartis has been embroiled in a corruption scandal in Greece, accused of paying bribes to top public officials and the corruption scandal will likely be a key issue in the upcoming elections in October.

In addition to the funds from Novartis, Transparency International Greece has taken corporate donations over the years from major multinational corporations, including Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Unilever, KPMG, PWC, Ernst & Young and GlaxoSmithKline.

Anna Damaskou of Transparency International Greece says that while the group did accept the donation from Novartis, last year TI-Greece put out a press release calling for “an in-depth investigation of the case.”

And Michael Hornsby, a spokesperson for Transparency International in Berlin, said that Novartis made the donation to TI-Greece “several years prior to the current scandal surrounding their alleged bribery of officials in Greece.”

In fact, the corruption scandal was already in motion in 2013, although it hadn’t been widely publicized.

Novartis did not return calls seeking comment for this article.

The corporate influence over TI-Greece is part of a troubling pattern of Transparency International offices around the world being funded by and influenced by major corporations.

In January 2017, Transparency International USA was stripped of its accreditation. The group had increasingly come to be seen in the United States as a corporate front group, funded primarily by large multinationals, including Bechtel Corporation, Deloitte, Google, Pfizer  ($50,000 or more), Citigroup, ExxonMobil, Fluor, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Marsh & McLennan, PepsiCo, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Raytheon, Tyco ($25,000–$49,999), and Freeport-McMoRan and Johnson & Johnson (up to $24,999).

Last year, the German Chemical Industry Association, a partner of Transparency International, lobbied European Union officials in opposition to strengthening whistleblower rights in the EU.

And in 2013, Transparency International Berlin accepted a $3 million donation from Siemens, despite the fact that Siemens pled guilty in 2008 to bribery charges and paid more than $1.6 billion in penalties.

Siemens was implicated in corruption in Greece, Norway, Iraq, Vietnam, Italy, Israel, Argentina, Venezuela, China and Russia.

[This story was reported with Dimokratia, the second largest, national political newspaper in Greece. Dimokratia ran a separate article today.]

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