There’s been a major corruption scandal allegedly involving a Greek member of the European Parliament (MEP). MEP Eva Kaili has been stripped of her role as one of the EP’s 14 vice presidents.
Belgian prosecutors announced on Sunday that they had charged four people with corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organisation. The charges are part of an investigation into attempts by a Gulf state, named by Belgian media as Qatar, to buy influence in the assembly.
Investigators found 1.5 million euros in two homes and a suitcase. Sources said that 150,000 euros were found at Kaili’s flat, BBC reported. Kaili’s lawyer, however, said they didn’t know if any money was found, or how much.
Kaili denied involvement in the scandal. Qatar also denied any wrongdoing.
The three others accused in the scandal are Italian citizens, including Kaili’s partner, Francesco Giorgi.
Another person accused of being involved in the scandal is MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri. Panzeri runs the human rights group Fight Impunity, which works against impunity on serious human rights violations.
Another suspect is Niccolò Figa-Talamanca, Italian media reported. Figa-Talamanca runs the lobby group No Peace Without Justice.
Police have suspected for months that a Gulf country has been seeking to influence the EP through money and gifts given to people in “a significant political and/or strategic position,” according to the statement from the federal prosecutor.
The EP said in a statement that it did not comment on judicial proceedings. The statement said the EP “fully cooperates with the national authorities in charge,” including in this case.
Some MEPs have said that this investigation could represent one of the biggest corruption scandals in the EP’s history.
The recent scandal has now impacted developments between Qatar and the EU. A recommendation to allow Qataris to travel without visas to the EU was to be voted on by MEPs this week but has now been shelved.
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