The Greek MEP Eva Kaili is one of the four people who have been placed under arrest by a Brussels federal prosecutor on Sunday in the Qatar corruption scandal.
Kaili was charged with money laundering, corruption and participating in a criminal organization.
In an announcement that does not mention specific names, the Brussels federal prosecutor’s office said that four people were placed under arrest for the above charges, out of six detained during raids by the federal police on Friday.
“There are suspicions that individuals in political and/or strategic positions within the European Parliament were paid large sums or offered substantial gifts to influence the decisions of the Parliament,” the announcement said.
Two of the six people detained were released – including Kaili’s father who was caught leaving the hotel with a suitcase full of cash – while the home of a second MEP was raided on Saturday night, the announcement noted, adding that no further information will be released at this time to facilitate the investigation.
Kaili was detained on Friday as part of a major corruption probe by Belgian authorities into an alleged illicit influence campaign by Qatar.
According to “Le Soir” and the magazine “Knack”, Kaili’s partner Francesco Giorgi, a parliamentary assistant, was also detained on Friday and was under arrest, as well as the former Socialist and Democrats MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, while a Brussels lobbyist identified as ‘F’ remains in prison.
The second person detained and later released on conditions was the Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation, Luca Visentini, according to ‘Le Soir’.
According to ‘Le Soir‘ and ‘Knack‘, the second raid on Saturday night was at the home of Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella, while European Parliament President Roberta Metsola was also confirmed to have asked to be present during the raid, as required by Belgian law for lawmakers elected in Belgium.
Kaili suspended as a vice president of the European Parliament
Eva Kaili was suspended as a vice president of the European Parliament Saturday. European Parliament president Roberta Metsola “has decided to suspend with immediate effect all powers, duties and tasks that were delegated to Eva Kaili in her capacity as Vice-President of the European Parliament,” a spokesperson said.
Earlier Saturday, Metsola said on Twitter that the parliament “stands firmly against corruption”, adding they would so everything they could to “assist the course of justice”.
The Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament announced they had suspended her membership.
Outrage in Brussels over the Qatar corruption scandal
The announcement came amid mounting outrage over the allegations and calls for action to tackle corruption inside the European Parliament.
“Over many decades, the Parliament has allowed a culture of impunity to develop, with a combination of lax financial rules and controls and a complete lack of independent (or indeed any) ethics oversight,” Transparency International’s director Michiel van Hulten told AFP.
The European Parliament’s Greens group called for a full investigation into allegations of bribery by Qatar.
“We will not accept business as usual…,” the group said. “We must strengthen our rules so this cannot happen again.”
The European Parliament had “become a law unto itself”, said Van Hulten. “It is time for root and branch reform.”
A Qatari government official told AFP: “We are not aware of any details of an investigation. Any claims of misconduct by the State of Qatar are gravely misinformed.”
The country “operates in full compliance with international laws and regulations”, he added.