Recent complaints by Moroccan’s foreign minister that the European parliament is treating Rabat poorly, since the MoroccoGate scandal broke, are likely to only get worse in the coming weeks after the MEP at the centre of the allegations is about to reveal all of his murky dealings.
The alleged ringleader of a European Union cash-for-influence corruption scandal linked to both Qatar and Morocco has decided to reveal information about the affair in exchange for a lighter sentence, Belgian prosecutors revealed on January 17th.
This is the worst possible news for the Moroccan government and the palace which were both hoping that EU figures like Josep Borrell, who recently visited Nasser Bourita, would sweep the affair under the carpet.
Pier Antonio Panzeri, was charged last month with corruption, money-laundering and membership of a criminal organisation. His lawyers have now signed a memorandum in which Panzeri repents of his acts, the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
According to a Belgian arrest warrant issued for his wife and daughter, who are living in Italy, Panzeri is suspected of intervening politically with members working at the European Parliament in exchange for payment. Both countries have denied the allegations.
Panzeri, a former Socialist and Democrats lawmaker at the European Parliament, set up a campaign group dubbed Fight Impunity that was believed to have been a front for the scheme. Fight Impunity was involved in a number of conferences with parliamentarians in recent years.
Panzeri pledges to tell investigators how the scheme worked, what financial arrangements were made with other countries, how the money was moved around, who was behind the plan and what they stood to gain, as well as the names of others who might be involved.
The scandal came to public attention in early December after police launched more than 20 raids, mostly in Belgium but also in Italy. Hundreds of thousands of euros were found at one home and in a suitcase at a hotel in Brussels. Mobile phones and computer equipment and data were seized.
The legal deal means that “a limited sentence is provided for Panzeri,” prosecutors said. “The punishment includes imprisonment, a fine and the confiscation of all assets acquired, currently estimated at one million euros (dollars),” it said.
Panzeri, his former assistant Francesco Giorgi, Greek lawmaker Eva Kaili and the head of an aid group were taken into custody after the raids. They are believed to be at the heart of one of the biggest scandals to hit the parliament, the EU’s only publicly-elected institution. Kaili and Girogi are partners.
AP and other agencies