Scandal Rocks the European Union as Members of Parliament Are Arrested for Corruption Charges

Raids have been conducted on homes of current and former European Union members who are the focus of a probe.

Reports out of Brussels are that this weekend, authorities have been conducting a series of raids stemming from an investigation into various Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) over suspicions of corruption and bribery. Over a dozen raids were conducted by Belgium federal police forces concerning alleged offenses of criminal organization, corruption, and money laundering.

The investigation was initiated by one of the factions inside of the EU to look into the issue of corruption over the suspected payments to members by the nation of Qatar. Initially, it was believed outside factions and former members might have been involved but then it was announced that Eva Kaili, a socialist from Greece and one of the more powerful vice presidents of the European Parliament, was among those being held. She has already been stripped of her position inside of parliament.

Also targeted was another socialist member, Marc Tarabella of Belgium. Other arrests involved the leader of an NGO called Fight Impunity, a former MEP named Piet Antonio Panzeri. Kaili’s life partner, who is also involved in the NGO, was also detained. Police also secured one office of another parliamentary assistant who used to work for Fight Impunity, now working as an aide to another Belgian Socialist Party MEP, Marie Arena.

The belief is that this all follows the investigation into Qatar looking to buy influence inside the EU. During the raid on Kaili’s home, police reported finding “bags of cash” during their investigation. In all the home raids there have been confiscations of computer equipment, phones, and more money. In total, reports are that upwards of EUR600,000 in cash has been seized.

Both Naili and Tarabella have been known as very vocal proponents of Qatar in debates within the EU parliament. They each work on committees or offices involving the Middle East. Those involved with the NGO were apparently acting in a capacity similar to lobbyists. Another individual detained is connected to a separate NGO that also promotes human rights in the Middle East. It was found to share the same address in Belgium as Fight Impunity.

Kaili recently made a trip to Qatar ahead of the World Cup and has been backing the country while speaking in front of parliament. Normally MEPs enjoy the privilege of immunity, but there is a rule in the EU parliament that it gets waved once a member is caught in the commission of a crime. Not only was Kaili found in possession of a large sum of cash, but her father had been caught on surveillance transporting cash in a suitcase.

Paolo Gentiloni, the European Union economy commissioner spoke about what this scandal might mean for the governing body.

The former Italian prime minister said during a show on Italy’s state broadcaster Rai that if the allegations were confirmed, “I think it would really be one of the most dramatic corruption cases in recent years”.

Kaili has been a prominent pro-Qatar voice with her Socialist & Democracy Party factions inside the EU, in opposition to many others. She was a dissenting voice among other MEPs when they passed a resolution to condemn the worker conditions in Qatar regarding the construction of the World Cup soccer stadiums. Another time she attempted a supporting vote on a committee of which she was not a member. She has written op-eds of support, seemingly without the full support of parliament.

There was a delegation planned to visit Qatar to inspect working conditions and other aspects of the stadium facilities. The Qatar government officials canceled the visit just before the soccer tournament, but then it was noted that Kaili ended up making the trip at the time the delegation was scheduled to go.

This investigation also involves a number of entities outside the EU, many connected to the entity. As far as the scope of this scandal goes, one international entity assesses the seriousness of this investigation.

“While this may be the most egregious case of alleged corruption the European Parliament has seen in many years, it is not an isolated incident. 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. In many ways it has become a law unto itself.

In other words, the EU is being shown to be the very corrupt organization many have declared it to be for quite a few years already.

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