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EU parliament chief promises ‘clampdown’ amid corruption probe

Roberta Metsola vows a tough response to a scandal, allegedly involving Qatari money

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola has pledged to do all it takes to make sure the legislature is “not for sale” to foreign actors, amid a corruption scandal allegedly involving FIFA World Cup 2022 host nation Qatar.

Four people, including the EU parliament’s now-removed vice president Eva Kaili, her partner, and two heads of NGOs were detained in Belgium last week on suspicion of taking bribes from a foreign nation. The country in question has not been officially named, but an informed source told the media that it was Qatar, which had been looking to influence EU policy-making. 

Police have also posted a picture of €1.5 million in cash they seized in raids targeting the homes of the politicians from Friday to Monday.

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The affair has dealt “a blow to democracy,” Metsola said on Thursday. “It takes years to build trust but just a moment to bring them down.”

“There are… too many informal groupings that are potentially more amenable to influence. Too many organizations whose transparency of funding is not clear. We will clamp down on everything,” she vowed.

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FILE PHOTO. Eva Kaili at the Greek parliament
EU fires top official arrested in graft probe

According to the parliament’s president, this time “there will be no impunity, there will be no sweeping under the carpet, there will be no business as usual.”

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“I will do everything I can” to make sure that the European parliament “is clean, that is transparent, and that is not for sale to foreign actors that seek to undermine us,” Metsola said.

A Belgian justice ministry spokesperson said on Thursday the graft probe was “a major case” on which its investigators had been working “for more than a year, in collaboration with foreign intelligence services, to list suspicions of corruption of MEPs by different countries.”

“We’ve been too naïve… for far too long” about the shady operations of foreign powers in Brussels, the spokesperson acknowledged. 

Kaili, who denies any wrongdoing, her partner and parliamentary assistant Federico Giorgi, and founder of Fight Impunity NGO Pier Antonio Panzeri currently remain in custody. The head of the No Peace Without Justice group, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, will be released, but will have to wear an electronic ankle tag, prosecutors said.

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December 15, 2022 at 08:24PM
RT

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