Qatar corruption scandal: Panzeri's family recovered 'the products' in Morocco

Qatar corruption scandal: Panzeri's family recovered 'the products' in Morocco
Former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri. Credit: Belga

A series of wiretaps carried out by Belgium's intelligence services give the impression that members of former MEP Antonio Panzeri's close family were also involved in the Qatargate corruption scandal that has shocked the European Parliament in recent weeks.

Arrested and placed under house arrest in Italy, Panzeri's wife and daughter, Maria Dolores Colleoni (67) and Silvia (38) were taken to court in Brescia, Lombardy at the start of the week, to decide on whether they would be extradited to Belgium.

The extradition request, which was formally delivered to Italy by investigating judge Michel Claise on Friday, strongly suggested that Colleoni and Silvia materially benefited from Panzeri's illicit funds.

Colleoni was already heard on Monday, and Silvia is being heard on Tuesday. While the judges accepted the extradition of Colleoni to Belgium, her lawyers denied any offence on the part of their client and indicated that she knew nothing of her husband's actions. The same goes for his daughter.

Coffee with Atmoun

However, a series of wiretaps carried out by State Security, which Le Soir and La Repubblica were able to consult, gives an idea of Claise's questions concerning the alleged involvement of Panzeri's close family.

On 4 June 2022, Panzeri contacted his wife and daughter, who were both travelling in Morocco. "Everything went well, we were passed off as VIPs, we went to [Abderrahim] Atmoun to have a coffee," said Colleoni. Atmoun is Morocco's Ambassador to Poland and a close personal friend of Panzeri's.

When Panzeri asked if they had seen "the boxes," his wife said: "Yes, we have seen them! Because afterwards, he threw some products in the bags before leaving! Hihihi." In his reply, Panzeri laughed back.

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The Belgian intelligence service, in its now-declassified note sent to the Federal Prosecutor's Office, thinks that this trip was made to "bring back possible retributions for interference activities for the benefit of Morocco." Another communication that happened on the same day saw Atmoun himself confirming to Panzeri that he put the "products" into his wife's bag. Which, again, made Panzeri laugh.

In another recording transcribed by the Belgian intelligence services, the couple speaks in their Italian home about property acquired in a potentially illicit way at the end of July 2022. "We must hope that we will not come back here, they would find everything and anything," said Colleoni.

During a search last week, Italian investigators discovered a sum of €17,000 in cash in the house in question.

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