EU parliament boss fingered by Belgian police in graft probe


Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, or indeed taking them. A Greek MEP had her powers as a Vice President of the European Parliament suspended on December 10th over a corruption probe implicating World Cup hosts Qatar that has ensnared four others and sparked calls for “root and branch reform” in the EU institution.

The news will come as a shockwave to the EU’s credibility, in particular the European Parliament itself which many sceptics of the EU have argued for decades is mired in corruption allegations since its inception in the 1970s. It will also have an impact on how the EU is able to leverage MENA countries on their own corruption and human rights abuses.

The latest corruption revelation involved Eva Kaili, a 44-year-old Greek former TV news anchor, who was suspended by her party in Greece and the EU assembly’s Socialists and Democrats group after Belgian police staged 16 raids across Brussels as part of a probe into corruption and money laundering at the parliament.

Four people were detained for questioning, and investigators recovered around €600,000 in cash and seized computer equipment and mobile telephones. Prosecutors did not identify the four but at least one was an EU lawmaker and one was a former member.

Authorities have not identified the Gulf country suspected of offering cash or gifts to officials at the parliament in exchange for political favors, but several members have linked the investigation to Qatar.

Parliament President Roberta Metsola “has decided to suspend with immediate effect all powers, duties and tasks that were delegated to Eva Kaili in her capacity as vice president of the European Parliament,” Metsola’s spokesman said.

The EU itself is currently embroiled in graft rumours and investigations. Even the European Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen is being investigated for her murky relations with US pharma giant Pfeizer amidst allegations of improprieties over a possible 35bn euro vaccine deal.

The latest MEP scandal is said to have at its root a foreign country offering cash to MEPs to steer parliamentary decisions, with Qatar believed to be the country involved.

Authorities have not formally identified the country though suspected of offering cash or gifts to officials at the parliament in exchange for political favours, but several members of the assembly and some Belgian media have linked the investigation to Qatar.

In a statement on Twitter, Qatar’s foreign ministry said that the country “rejects any attempts to associate it with accusations of misconduct. Any association of the Qatari government with the reported claims is baseless and gravely misinformed.”


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