After Belgian police raided the European People’s Party’s (EPP) headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, various reports indicated that the German politician, Mario Voigt, is under investigation for financial irregularities rooted in the 2019 EU elections.
"The European People’s Party confirms that representatives from the Belgian and German police authorities visited the party headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday 4 April. The visit is connected to an ongoing inquiry in Thuringia, Germany," the EPP confirmed in a short press release on Tuesday afternoon.
Mario Voigt, the man at the heart of the investigation, is a member of the German Christian-democratic CDU party and since 2020 has been the parliamentary leader in his home state of Thuringia. In 2019, Voigt was the digital campaign lead for both the EPP and also for the party president Manfred Weber when he was running to be the next President of the European Commission.
However, Voigt has faced increased scrutiny over his activities outside of politics, particularly in his role as a university professor at the Quadriga Hochschule Berlin and his work as a consultant. The German politician is suspected of corruption and bribery over a number of alleged commercial transactions in the context of his consultancy work.
While the Christian democrat has consistently proclaimed his innocence, these activities had generated suspicions among investigators in Thuringia, with the state's Public Prosecutor’s Office launching an investigation in 2022.
The allegations are related to Voigt's activities in the 2019 European election campaign when he worked for the EPP's President Manfred Weber. According to the German public broadcaster MDR, Voigt was said to have given a contract to an internet agency which reportedly paid him a consulting fee for the job or referral. Mario Voigt allegedly awarded a contract to a consultancy company from the German city of Jena specialised in political campaigns in exchange for €17,000.
Pursuing the investigation into Voigt's activities during the 2019 European Parliament elections, German authorities have worked alongside their Belgian counterparts to raid the offices of the EPP in Brussels, in the search for evidence linked to the case.
In collaboration with Belgian police, German investigators are now attempting to determine the sums of money Voigt could have received during his time in Brussels. According to Euronews, police are also searching for various documents and witnesses in Brussels, which they may have found during Tuesday’s raid.
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In September 2022, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Thuringia’s regional parliament had lifted Voigt's parliamentary immunity to allow the state's authorities to further investigate his alleged financial irregularities.
The Dutch news agency ANP has also confirmed that a senior EPP official is suspected of corruption during the 2019 European Parliament elections, which has not yet been confirmed to be Voigt.
The investigation, however, appears to have no direct correlation with the ongoing Qatargate scandal, in which multiple MEPs are accused of undeclared lobbying on behalf of Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania.