Brussels / Athens corruption investigations, money laundering and attempted influence by a Gulf state shake the European Parliament. According to Belgian prosecutors, there were 16 searches and five people arrested in the case on Friday. The authorities said the investigation was about a suspected criminal organization and allegations of corruption and money laundering.
According to information from the German Press Agency, the Vice President of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, was also arrested in connection with investigations into corruption. The Greek had already been expelled from her party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), on Friday evening. She is now being interrogated by investigators.
The public prosecutor’s office did not say which Gulf state is allegedly trying to influence parliament. According to research by the newspaper “Le Soir” and the magazine “Knack”, it is the Emirate of Qatar.
On November 21, the Greek Kaili gave a speech in the European Parliament on the World Cup in Qatar. In it, she described the sporting event as proof “that sports diplomacy can bring about historic change in a country whose reforms have inspired the Arab world”. Qatar has played a pioneering role in labor rights, for example.
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Party leader Nikos Androulakis informed about Kaili’s expulsion from the party on Friday. She has been an MEP since 2014 and one of 14 Vice-Presidents of Parliament since 2022. From 2004 to 2007, according to her CV on the parliament website, she was a newsreader and journalist, and later also a PR consultant in Greece.
Suspicion of influence for several months
According to the public prosecutor’s office, the Belgian police have suspected for several months that a Gulf state is trying to influence the political and economic decisions of the European Parliament. Substantial sums of money or gifts in kind are said to have been distributed to persons in Parliament who held a political or strategic position.
A former MEP was among the respondents, it said. According to the public prosecutor’s office, 600,000 euros in cash and mobile phones were confiscated during the searches.
A spokesman for the European Parliament said on request that there was no comment on ongoing investigations. However, one will fully cooperate with the responsible authorities.
The Social Democratic Group in Parliament made a similar statement. The faction has zero tolerance for corruption. At the same time, work in Parliament on all issues affecting the Gulf States and the plenary votes on them would have to be suspended.
The co-chair of the parliament’s anti-corruption working group, Daniel Freund, was shocked by the investigation. “The allegations must be fully clarified,” said the Green politician. Money should not play a role in the decisions in Europe’s largest parliament. There is a huge loss of trust.