The EU has launched an investigation on possible links between former Greek Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and the Qatargate corruption scandal, Politico reports.
According to the report, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen launched an urgent inquiry into her twenty-six commissioners’ links to the former EU migration chief.
The Commission is also asking Avramopoulos himself to explain how he complied with lobbying rules.
Avramopoulos, a former EU migration commissioner, was an honorary board member of the NGO Fight Impunity, which was established by former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri. Panzeri is currently being held in jail on preliminary charges of corruption and money laundering.
Avramopoulos says he got the green light from the EU
Avramopoulos admitted receiving a payment of €60,000 from Fight Impunity and has since resigned from his role on the NGO’s honorary board.
The Greek politician said on Thursday that when he was offered to become a member of the honorary committee of this organization, he sent a letter to the Commission requesting information on whether the organization is credible and if it allows him to become a member and receive compensation.
“Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen’s answer came in writing,” he said while clarifying that he was not related to Panzeri’s other activities.
“If we had realized what he was doing, I would have left from the first moment,” Avramopoulos said, adding that he voluntarily left his position at the organization in February 2022 and asked for the termination of his payroll which was declared and taxed in Greece.
Avramopulos also denied that the EU Commission has launched an investigation into his possible links to Qatargate.
Politico reveals investigation into his links with Qatargate implicated NGO
An email was sent earlier on Wednesday to each of the Commissioners’ cabinets’ “transparency and ethics contact points.” This email was also seen by Politico. In the email, an EU official asked whether members of the College of Commissioners or cabinet staffers had interacted with Avramopoulos or Fight Impunity (which it refers to as AITJ, based on the full name Association Against Impunity and for Transitional Justice) last year.
The email questioned whether a “member or Cabinet had any interaction (correspondence, meetings, contacts) with Former Commissioner Avramopoulos in the period 3 February 2021 and 1 December 2021 in his capacity of Honorary Board member of AITJ.”
The official asked the same question about any communication with any other Fight Impunity representatives, or with Avramopoulos “in any other capacity” during the time period, “and if so, to inform [the sender] about the subject of this interaction.”