The European Parliament was rocked by a massive scandal after Belgian police arrested one of the 14 Vice Presidents of the European Parliament, Eva Kalli of Greece, on Friday evening, for alleged corruption links to Qatar, Belgian media reported.
The European Parliament is cooperating fully with law enforcement authorities, EU President Roberta Metsola tweeted.
Police investigations centre around allegations that Ms. Kalli was involved in a ring that was lobbying for various interests of the state of Qatar, Belgian media reported.
Ms. Kalli recently made several public statements praising Qatar’s respect for labour standards, although the Middle Eastern state has been heavily criticized for the deaths of thousands of South Asian workers due to unsafe work conditions while constructing the stadiums for the ongoing FFA World Cup.
The Belgian Prosecutors Office did not name Qatar, but said in a statement that investigations are focused on “a suspected Gulf country of influencing the economic and political decisions of the European parliament.”
Belgium’s Chief Prosecutor announced the arrests of four other people in the scandal. Belgian media reported that they included Luca Visentini, the Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and Antonio Panzeri, a former Member of the European Parliament representing Italy.
Police searched 16 different locations in the Belgian capital Brussels on Friday and recovered EUR 600,000.
Ms. Kalli, 44, is a former television presenter who became a Vice President of the EU in January 2022. She was promptly suspended by the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, and expelled from the Greek socialist party PASOK (Movement For Change) that she represented.
A statement from the Belgian Prosecutors Office said: “Today’s searches have enabled investigators to recover about 600,000 Euros in cash. Computer equipment and mobile phones were also seized.” The investigation is into “criminal organisation, corruption and money laundering.”
The lobbying was allegedly done “by paying large sums of money or offering large gifts to influential figures in the European Parliament,” the statement said.
( source News first)