According to information from the German Press Agency, the Vice President of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, was arrested in connection with corruption investigations in Belgium.
The Greek was expelled from her party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), yesterday. The Socialist Group in the European Parliament suspended Kaili's membership with immediate effect. According to the Belgian public prosecutor's office, there were 16 searches in the case on Friday. Five people were arrested. Kaili is one of 14 Vice-Presidents of Parliament.
The investigations are about a suspected criminal organization, attempted influence by a Gulf state and allegations of corruption and money laundering, the authority said. For several months, there have been suspicions that a Gulf state is trying to influence the political and economic decisions of the EU Parliament. According to media reports, it is Qatar. Substantial sums of money or gifts in kind are said to have been distributed to persons in Parliament who held a political or strategic position.
EU Parliament Vice Beer shocked
The German Vice President of the EU Parliament, Nicola Beer, was shocked by the current allegations of corruption. "It stuns me," said the FDP politician to the German Press Agency. "It is absolutely clear that this has an overall negative impact on Parliament."
Beer told the dpa that Kaili had shaken the citizens' trust in the European Parliament. "I hope that she draws consequences of her own accord." First, she should give up her post as Deputy President of the European Parliament. If the investigations confirm the suspicion, the former journalist should also resign as a member of parliament.
Investigations and Responses
Kaili, who has now been arrested, gave a speech in the European Parliament on November 21 about the current World Cup in Qatar. In it, the 44-year-old politician described the sporting event as proof "that sports diplomacy can bring about historic change in a country whose reforms have inspired the Arab world". Qatar is a pioneer when it comes to labor rights, for example. Kaili had previously met with Qatari Labor Minister Samikh Al Marri, Qatari ambassador to the EU Christian Tudor wrote on Twitter.
Kaili has been an MEP since 2014 and Vice-President of Parliament since 2022. From 2004 to 2007, according to her CV on the parliament website, she was a newsreader and journalist, and later also a PR consultant in Greece.
The Belgian public prosecutor's office has now announced that a former MEP was among those questioned. During the searches, 600,000 euros in cash and mobile phones were confiscated.
A spokesman for the European Parliament said on request that there was no comment on ongoing investigations. However, one will fully cooperate with the responsible authorities. The Social Democratic Group in Parliament made a similar statement. The faction has no tolerance for corruption. At the same time, work in Parliament on all issues affecting the Gulf States and the plenary votes on them would have to be suspended.
The co-chair of the parliament's anti-corruption working group, Daniel Freund, was shocked by the investigation. "The allegations must be fully clarified," said the Green politician. Money should not play a role in the decisions in Europe's largest parliament. There is a huge loss of trust.
Justice wants to decide on Sunday
On Sunday it will be decided whether the Greek politician and four other suspects will remain in prison. Then possible arrest warrants will be decided, said a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office of the German Press Agency in Brussels.
According to dpa information, the arrested include the partner of the Greek MEPs, who works in parliament as an adviser on foreign policy and human rights. In addition, according to the public prosecutor's office, a former MEP is among those arrested. According to media reports, all suspects except Kaili have Italian nationality or are of Italian descent.
According to the public prosecutor, the investigation is about a suspected criminal organization, attempted influence from abroad and allegations of corruption and money laundering. For several months, there have been suspicions that a Gulf state is trying to influence the political and economic decisions of the EU Parliament. According to dpa information, this is the Emirate of Qatar, where the World Cup is currently being held.