06 June 2023,   03:48
Police recovered about €‎1.5 million in a sting that exposed an alleged bribery ring at the European Parliament, that may be just the tip of the cash-filled iceberg – POLITICO

In December, Belgian police recovered about €‎1.5 million in a sting that exposed an alleged bribery ring at the European Parliament, writes POLITICO.

“That may be just the tip of the cash-filled iceberg.

According to an arrest warrant for Eva Kaili, a former Parliament vice president and the most-senior EU lawmaker snared in the probe, “several million euros” were handed to the main suspects in the so-called Qatargate scandal.

The “considerable sums of money”, adds the warrant, obtained by POLITICO, were “paid secretly, in cash by Morocco and Qatar”.

The detail is just one of several eye-catching nuggets in the document, parts of which have previously been reported in Greek media. It also states that Kaili placed calls to the alleged ringleader, Pier Antonio Panzeri, as well as to two other unnamed EU lawmakers, after the arrest of her partner, Francesco Giorgi, on the morning of December 9.

The document broadly describes a Brussels-based network working on behalf of Qatar’s labor minister, which has been Ali bin Samikh Al Marri since 2021. On the ground, the warrant alleges, Qatar ran its operations through Panzeri, a former MEP who was also arrested and confessed in a plea deal to bribing lawmakers.

“The Labor Minister”, the warrant reads, “seems to be the controller of Mr. Panzeri’s activities”.

Also involved: Kaili’s partner, Giorgi, a parliamentary assistant who formerly worked for Panzeri and was arrested in December. The warrant paints Giorgi as the go-between connecting Panzeri and Kaili.

“The investigation shows that orders were given by Mr. Panzeri to the husband of the accused”, it adds, referring to Kaili.

According to the warrant, Panzeri went to Giorgi when he wanted to direct Kaili’s behavior. It highlights one incident where Panzeri was frustrated about Kaili talking to a mysterious figure - “the Dutchwoman”.

“Panzeri criticizes the fact that Kaili spoke to the Dutchwoman,” the warrant reads, noting Panzeri thought she had “overstepped”. He conveyed his pique to Giorgi: “It would be a good idea to tell her to stop”, Panzeri told Giorgi, according to the document.

POLITICO has not been able to establish the identity of “the Dutchwoman.”

The warrant also states that Giorgi had been unofficially helping Kaili pay off a “second apartment” purchased under her name, citing the arrangement as evidence she was aware of her partner’s Qatargate income.

Giorgi and Kaili both deny any wrongdoing. Kaili’s lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, declined to confirm or deny the warrant’s authenticity. A lawyer for Giorgi declined to comment and the Qatari government did not reply to a request for comment. Qatar has previously insisted it is not guilty of any corruption”, - writes the author.