Swiss stocks fall amid Greece uncertainty

Swiss stocks fell sharply on Monday in line with drops in other European markets as failure to form a Greek government at the weekend stoked concerns over the eurozone debt crisis.

The Swiss Market Index (SMI) dropped 1.36 percent to 5,873.84 points in midday trading, its lowest point since December.

“The stock markets could remain under pressure this week and will be sensitive to news from Greece,” said analysts at Hyposwiss bank who forecast a Greek exit from the eurozone “sooner or later.”

The Zurich Cantonal Bank said meanwhile that the possibility of a new round of elections in Greece could maintain pressure on stocks until mid-June.

Equities sank across Europe on Monday and the euro tumbled to its lowest point since January as Greek president Carolos Papoulias prepared for more talks aimed at breaking a political deadlock.

On May 6th, Greek voters delivered a sharp rebuke to mainstream parties that negotiated a second financial rescue by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, but which imposed tough austerity measures.


Greece investigates Swiss pharma Novartis over bribery claims

Greece's justice minister on Tuesday promised a "swift and thorough" investigation into suspected corruption by civil servants and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis.

Greece investigates Swiss pharma Novartis over bribery claims
The Novartis building in Basel. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Stavos Kontonis ordered an inquiry after “denunciations concerning bribes paid to functionaries by Novartis” appeared in the press, a ministerial statement said.
“The judicial investigation will be swift and thorough,” it added.
According to a judicial source, a preliminary investigation has been going on for two months and around 178 people in Greece have been questioned.
The source said anti-corruption prosecutors had visited Novartis's premises near Athens to gather evidence.
The case gained attention in recent days following a suicide attempt in Athens on Sunday, New Year's Day, by a Novartis manager.
That attempt was thwarted by police and according to the judicial source, the manager was one of those questioned over corruption.
For its part Novartis issued a statement saying it was “aware of the media reports about our business practices” in Greece and that it was seeking more information and was cooperating with the authorities.
“Novartis is committed to the highest standards of ethical business conduct and regulatory compliance in all aspects of its work and takes any allegation of misconduct extremely seriously,” the company said in the statement.
The judicial source also claimed American FBI agents were in Athens to help Greek authorities investigate Novartis.
The Swiss pharmaceutical giant was investigated by US authorities in 2014, accused of paying bribes in order to boost sales of some of its medicines, and was later fined $390 million by the US Justice Department.