Greek Anti-Graft Prosecutor: Burglary of My Home was a Message
Greece’s anti-corruption prosecutor, Eleni Touloupaki, confirmed to OCCRP on Monday that her house in Athens was broken into over the weekend, and that she sees it as “a message to all the prosecutors and judges who have been fighting against corruption over the last several years.”
Over the course of the several years, Touloupaki was probing an alleged kickback scheme between the Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis and numerous Greek elected officials and doctors. She told OCCRP that she is now being politically persecuted as a result.
Following the break-in, she said that she had “become the number one target. Next time they may even kill me."
The anti-graft crusader first came into prominence in 2015, when she relied on the testimony of an HSBC whistleblower, who revealed that tens of thousands of Greeks and EU citizens had been relying on the Swiss banking system to avoid paying billions of euros in taxes.
Her more recent investigation into the Novartis kickback scheme has been described as the country’s “biggest scandal.” Some of the accused, along with critics of her left-wing Syriza party, have called it “the biggest conspiracy” against their political opponents.
A recent US$233 million Novartis settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice acknowledged that the company had paid off numerous Greek doctors, but was inconclusive about whether Greek elected officials had been bribed as well.
Touloupaki’s probe initially implicated 10 elected officials – including two former Greek prime ministers – several of whom were members of the center-right New Democracy party that won a parliamentary majority last year.
Just over a month ago, federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Touloupaki, including one felony charge of “abuse of power.”
“They managed to turn the auditors into defendants in order to stop any judicial investigation,” Touloupaki told OCCRP.
She also said that she is “absolutely convinced” that this weekend’s burglary had to do with the accusations against her involving the Novartis case, saying “I have been the target of many during this period.”
Despite the fact that police had “an obligation to protect her property,” and that they were surely aware that she faces danger on a daily basis, they were suspiciously not present to prevent the break in, she explained.
Touloupaki told OCCRP that a hard disk drive and several documents were stolen, and that she is worried that devices may have been installed to monitor her telephone calls.
She also suspects that certain information about her health may have been taken, explaining that political rivals have previously argued that she is medically unfit to serve as the country’s top anti-corruption prosecutor.
Local media reported that Minister of Development Adonis Georgiadis of the ruling New Democracy party – who was implicated in Touloupaki’s initial probe – openly mocked the burglary on social media.