The Qatargate scandal, which recently shook the EU—and continues to do so—deepens following the revelation that two more MEPs will have their immunities lifted.
Qatargate, as the scandal has been dubbed, concerns the alleged bribery of MEPs, politicians, political staffers, civil servants, and their family members by Qatar and Morocco in exchange for political influence within EU institutions.
Thus far, Belgian, Greek, and Italian law enforcement agencies have seized large amounts of cash, laptops, phones, and electronic devices as evidence of suspected corruption. Four people have been charged in connection with the scandal.
President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola has launched a course of action to waiver the immunity of two additional MEPs, according to an update by the European Parliament.
Metsola will make the request formally on January 16th during a plenary session. This request will then be referred to the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), which will ultimately make the decision.
“From the very first moment the European Parliament has done everything in its power to assist in investigations and we will continue to make sure that there will be no impunity,” Metsola said. “Those responsible will find this Parliament on the side of the law. Corruption cannot pay and we will do everything to fight it.”
President Metsola has urged all services and committees to treat the procedure with urgency and reach a conclusion by February 13th.
She has also revealed her intentions to push through reforms and enhance enforcement procedures to prevent a future scandal like Qatargate from reoccurring.
Qatargate, the scandal so far
Some of the European Parliament’s foremost officials have been embroiled in the Qatargate corruption scandal. On December 9th, Belgian police conducted twenty raids across nineteen different addresses in Brussels.
After the raids, Belgian police arrested several individuals on suspicions that they had been involved in bribery, money laundering, and corruption. The most prominent figure among them was Eva Kaili, a Greek MEP and one of the fourteen vice presidents of the European Parliament.
Others who were arrested as a result of the Qatargate scandal were also connected to Kaili. These included Francesco Giorgi, who is Kaili’s husband and a political adviser, and Alexandros Kailis, who is Kaili’s father and a retired Greek politician.
Also arrested were Antonio Panzeri, an Italian MEP; Luca Visentini, an Italian politician and the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation; Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, the Secretary General of No Peace Without Justice; and an unnamed assistant of Italian MEP Alessandra Moretti.
In late December 2022, it was revealed that Kaili would remain in custody in Brussels for at least another month. Just before the new year, Greek authorities asked Panama officials to investigate Kaili and her husband to determine whether they had accepted bribes from Qatar.
Qatar has denied any involvement in the bribery scandal. Moroccan authorities have yet to comment. It is suspected that individuals from Morocco are also potentially involved in the scandal.