Corruption scandal: searches also in the EU Parliament in Brussels

In connection with the alleged corruption scandal involving EU Parliament Vice Eva Kaili, investigators also searched rooms in the EU Parliament in Brussels.

Corruption scandal: searches also in the EU Parliament in Brussels

In connection with the alleged corruption scandal involving EU Parliament Vice Eva Kaili, investigators also searched rooms in the EU Parliament in Brussels. This was announced by the Belgian public prosecutor.

Data was confiscated from the computers of ten parliamentary employees. The computers have been "frozen" since Friday to prevent the data required for the investigation from disappearing. There were also raids on Sunday in Italy, it said.

According to the public prosecutor's office, there have already been 20 searches since the investigation began - 19 in offices and living quarters and one in the European Parliament itself. According to this, 600,000 euros were found in a suspect's residence, several hundred thousand euros in a suitcase in a Brussels hotel and 150,000 euros in the flat of an MEP. The name was not mentioned.

anger, anger and grief

EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola sees the alleged bribery of her representative Eva Kaili as an attack on European democracy. "The European Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, is under attack, European democracy is under attack and our kind of open, free, democratic societies are under attack," said Metsola in Strasbourg. At the same time, she announced that the process for removing Kaili as Vice President would be initiated.

Metsola spoke of anger, anger and heartache at the revelations, but said she was choosing her words carefully because of the ongoing investigation. At the beginning of the last plenary week of the year in Strasbourg, she said: "The enemies of democracy, for whom the very existence of this Parliament is a threat, will stop at nothing." The Maltese spoke of "malicious actors linked to autocratic third countries". These were allegedly used as a weapon by non-governmental organizations, trade unions and members of parliament, among others.

Greek social democrat Kaili is one of six suspects arrested by Belgian authorities since Friday in the corruption scandal. Four of them were taken into custody on Sunday - including, according to information from the German Press Agency and other media, Kaili herself and her partner. The public prosecutor accuses Kaili and the other suspects of having influenced decisions in the European Parliament in favor of the Gulf Emirate of Qatar. In return, they are said to have received consideration such as large sums of money or gifts in kind. At the EU level, for example, consideration is currently being given to easing the visa rules for Qatari citizens.

All Kaili assets frozen

Kaili herself continued to come under pressure. In her native Greece, the anti-money laundering authority froze all of the 44-year-old's assets. At the same time, their dismissal was promoted. Metsola had already relieved her of her duties as deputy.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock spoke of an "incredible incident". "He must now be cleared up with no ifs or buts and with the full force of the law." EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen was dismayed: "The allegations against the Vice President of the European Parliament are very serious." Metsola assured: "It will not be swept under the carpet." Among other things, she announced an internal investigation, reforms in matters of transparency and the protection of whistleblowers in parliament.

With a view to the gas supplier Qatar and other autocratic states, Metsola closed her statement with the sentence: "We would rather freeze than be bought."

Qatar denies allegations

Qatar, on the other hand, firmly rejected the allegations in the scandal. The EU representation in Brussels said it was unfounded to link the allegations with the government in Doha.

A meeting of the so-called Conference of Presidents has been scheduled for Tuesday in the European Parliament - in addition to Metsola, these are the chairmen of the parliamentary groups. They are to initiate the process of removing former TV presenter Kaili as MP. The plenum could then vote on it on Tuesday. She has already been expelled from her Greek Pasok party and the Social Democratic group in the European Parliament.

As the Greek media unanimously reported, the head of the national anti-money laundering agency, Charalambos Vourliotis, had Kaili's assets frozen because of the investigation. The same applies to her parents, her sister and her boyfriend, who are also arrested in Belgium. Accounts, real estate holdings, company investments and similar assets would be examined.

The visa facilitation for Qatar that is in the room is not likely to come anytime soon. Although the responsible committee had established its position at the beginning of December, the plenary referred the dossier back to the committee on Monday in view of the latest revelations.