Qatar corruption investigation at European Parliament: four suspects charged
Four suspects have been placed under arrest in the investigation into corruption at the European Parliament, reports the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office. "They are accused of membership of a criminal organisation, money laundering and corruption," the prosecutor's office states. "The investigating judge released two persons."
On Friday evening, Belgian police detained five people in an investigation into possible attempts to influence decision-making at the European Parliament, Belgian media Le Soir and Knack reported. The investigating judge was given 48 hours to decide whether to charge the detainees. On Sunday, the federal prosecutor's office reported that four people were accused of membership of a criminal organisation, money laundering and corruption.
"Investigators of the Federal Judicial Police have suspected for several months that a Persian Gulf country has been trying to influence the economic and political decision-making of the European Parliament. They did so by paying large sums of money or offering large gifts to third parties with an important political or strategic position within the European Parliament," the federal public prosecutor's office said on Friday.
The federal prosecutor's office did not specify which Gulf country is involved, but a judicial source confirmed to Le Soir and Knack that the country in question is Qatar.
Among the people detained on Friday are Greek MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili, her life partner Francesco Giorgi, International Trade Union Confederation chief Luca Visentini, and former MEP Antonio Panzeri.
The federal prosecutor's office did not disclose who among them was charged and who was released on Sunday. However, according to the French news agency AFP, Eva Kaili is among the four people who have been charged.
On Saturday evening at around 8 pm, the home of a second MEP was also searched, the federal public prosecutor confirmed. According to Knack and Le Soir, the MEP in question is Belgian Marc Tarabella (PS, Belgian French-speaking socialists), but the federal public prosecutor's office did not confirm the name of the person involved.
"In the interest of the investigation, no further information will be given for the moment," the press release from the prosecutor's office reads.
Greek MEP and former Vice-President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili © Eric VIDAL / EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT / AFP