QatarGate – The major corruption scandal involving Members of the European Parliament has entered a new phase since its outbreak, after Greek MEP Eva Kaili admitted to some of the facts, while allegations against Morocco for playing a role similar to Qatar’s alleged role in bribing MEPs has started to become more and more evident. And indeed, the Brussels council chamber extended the pre-trial detention of the former vice-president of the European Parliament, accused of corruption, by one month on Thursday 22 December.
Eva Kaili, the former vice-president of the European Parliament, had partially confessed, in the framework of the investigation, to the accusations of corruption by the Emirate of Qatar towards some members of the European Parliament. Francesco Giorgi, a parliamentary assistant and friend of Kaili’s, also admitted that he and others influenced the work of his parliamentary group to project Qatar’s influence as well as Morocco’s in the parliament.
Eva Kaili, a member of the Greek centre-left PASOK-KIBNAL party, was arrested on 9 December and remanded in a Belgian prison.
She recently made a partial confession to police that she was involved in corruption and kept a bag full of cash at home, which authorities estimated at 1.5 million euros, and admitted that she had asked her father to hide much of the money before police searched her flat and arrested her in Brussels and seized a bag full of cash.
The accusations against Kaili became clearer and more credible when the European Parliament voted to suspend privileged access to the institution for Qatari lobbyists.
She denounced Qatar for refusing to accuse her of offering “gifts” to represent its interests, stressing that this will have a “negative effect on regional and global security cooperation”, without forgetting to mention the sensitive energy dossier. As for Morocco, the authorities are still silent and have not commented on the allegations. In addition, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch has filed a defamation complaint against former French EU representative José Buffet, who claimed that the Moroccan prime minister had tried to bribe him on the sidelines of negotiations for a trade agreement.
In addition to Kaili and Giorgi, there is the former Italian MP Pier Antonio Panzeri who is suspected of being the head of the corrupt organisation. According to Giorgi’s confession, Panziri is a “pawn” in the hands of Morocco, which, like Qatar, has tried to interfere in European affairs. After its defeat in the 2019 European elections, Panziri continued its lobbying work via the NGO “Fighting Impunity” founded in 2019 and suspected of being a front for a corruption organisation serving the kingdom.
The Belgian authorities, in particular, are seeking to clarify the role of the organisation in the negotiations on the Sahara conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which Algeria has always supported.
Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella, a member of the delegation for relations with the Arab Gulf States, is also accused of having received bribes from Doha. On 10 December, the police searched his house and confiscated his electronic devices, but they have not yet investigated him.
Finally, another name of an elected official targeted by the investigation has been announced, namely Andrea Cozzolino, member of the parliamentary delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries.
The judicial investigations are still ongoing and other names involved will be disclosed in the coming days.
To be continued…