Sixteen searches, four arrests in European Parliament after Qatar corruption investigation

Sixteen searches, four arrests in European Parliament after Qatar corruption investigation
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The European Parliament is rocked by scandal following arrests of an MEP and others working at the Parliament over corruption charges.

A judicial investigation into the bribery of members of the European Parliament by Qatar, conducted by Belgium's Federal Prosecutor’s Office resulted in 16 searches and four arrests on Friday, according to Knack and Le Soir and confirmed by the federal prosecutor’s office.

Greek MEP Eva Kaili is reportedly among the detained and has been suspended from the Parliament's Socialists and Democrats group.

Others detained include Luca Visentini, secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation, Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former S&D MEP from Italy who chaired the Parliament’s human rights subcommittee.

"Federal Judicial Police investigators have suspected for several months that a country of the Persian Gulf has been trying to influence the economic and political decision-making of the European Parliament," the Federal Prosecutor's Office stated.

It added that the country did so "by paying large sums of money or offering large gifts to third parties with important political and/or strategic positions within the European Parliament.”

A judicial investigation was thus opened, focusing on criminal organisation, corruption, and money laundering, while 16 searches were conducted on Friday in Ixelles, Schaarbeek, Kraainem, Forest and Brussels, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said.

“Four persons were taken for questioning and may be arraigned before the investigating judge. Those arrested were born in 1955, 1969, 1971, and 1987.

"In particular, the operation targeted employees of the European Parliament, and among those questioned was a former member of the European Parliament,” the office disclosed.

During the searches, investigators seized about €600,000 in cash, in addition to a great deal of computer equipment and a large quantity of cell phones, which will all be analysed, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said.

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