Corruption in the EU Parliament? Suitcases and pockets full of money

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Corruption in the EU Parliament? Suitcases and pockets full of money

Thomas Gutschker from Police officers arrest a vice president of the EU Parliament. In her house they find several bags full of banknotes. The trail is said to lead to Qatar

Rarely has Qatar been so praised. The host of the World Cup is a “pioneer in workers’ rights,” said Eva Kaili when she spoke in the European Parliament on November 21. At issue was a resolution by MEPs on the human rights situation in the emirate and the role of the world soccer federation in awarding the World Cup. The resolution spoke of thousands of migrant workers who were said to have died in the construction of the stadiums.

But the Greek Social Democrat, one of the fourteen vice presidents of the parliament, saw things quite differently: “They have committed themselves to a vision out of free choice and they have opened up to the world,” she enthused about the Emirate. In contrast, she reproached her colleagues in the Strasbourg plenum: “Yet some here call for them to be discriminated against. They intimidate them and they accuse anyone who talks to them or has contacts of corruption.” It’s a sentence that takes one’s breath away today.

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On Friday evening, Eva Kaili, 44, was arrested by Belgian police on acute suspicion of corruption, the Belgian Attorney General’s Office confirmed. According to a report in the newspaper L’Echo, she and her father were caught red-handed. The father had been caught with a “suitcase full of banknotes” while trying to abscond. During a search of the politician’s private home, “several more bags filled with banknotes” were then found.

That was enough to arrest the deputy. Parliamentary immunity does not protect her if there is a strong suspicion and danger of collusion. Within 48 hours, a magistrate must decide whether she will remain in custody. She was expelled from her Pasok party as recently as Friday evening, and her membership in the Social Democrats’ parliamentary group was suspended.

Kaili is the most prominent, but not the only, accused in this corruption case that has made high waves in Brussels and could grow into a crisis of confidence in the entire institution. Four other people were questioned by police and taken into custody after house searches in fifteen different locations in the Belgian capital, including offices in the EU Parliament.

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According to consistent reports in Belgian media, these include former EU MEP Pier-Antonio Panzeri, an Italian Social Democrat, president of the non-governmental organization “Fight against Impunity.” A suitcase containing 600,000 euros in cash was reportedly seized from his private home on Friday morning.

Qatar rejects accusations

Also arrested was Luca Visentini, recently general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, after having held that position for years at the head of the European Trade Union Confederation. Also affected are two assistants to MEPs, including Francesco G., Kaili’s partner. Their offices were searched and sealed by police.

“The searches were carried out as part of a broad investigation into suspicions of involvement in a criminal organization, corruption and money laundering,” the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said. Investigators suspected “a Gulf state of attempting to influence the economic and political decisions of the European Parliament” by “paying substantial sums of money or offering substantial gifts to third parties holding a strategically important position in the European Parliament.” So reported the newspaper Le Soir, which was the first to get wind of the searches and arrests on Friday.

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Salih Demir

Salih Demir lives in Germany. He is interested in politics and economy. Germany editor of -ancient idea-

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