Belgium police arrested a European Parliament lawmaker and four other people on Friday in connection with the monetary payments by a Gulf country to influence the decisions of MEPs.
According to Voice of America, a Qatari official, who said that he was not aware of any details of the investigation, said, “Any claims of misconduct by the state of Qatar are gravely misinformed.”
VOA, citing the sources, reported that the EU Lawmaker, who was arrested on Friday evening, is the Vice President of parliament Eva Kaili.
In Belgium, the federal police said they have 48 hours to decide whether to formally charge someone or to drop the case.
Speaking about the case, Pasok, the Greek political party to which Kaili belonged, said they have expelled her and the Socialists and Democrats group suspended her.
“Following the latest developments and the Belgian authorities’ investigation into corruption of European officials, MEP Eva Kaili is expelled from PASOK – Movement for Change by decision of President Nikos Androulakis,” the party said on Twitter.
The case could turn into one of the biggest scandals in the European Parliament, which has been at the center of several corruption and fraud cases over the past two decades, according to our reporters.
Former lawmakers have been jailed for taking bribes in so-called cash-for-laws cases, and multiple criminal cases involving lawmakers’ misuse of European Parliament cash.
In a recent speech in parliament, she extolled Qatar’s record as the soccer World Cup host, saying it had put its alleged human-rights problems behind it, reported VOA.
Kaili is often described as an up-and-coming power in the EU legislature by parliamentary sources. She was a member of the parliament’s delegation for relations with the Arab Parliament, among other duties.
“The World Cup is proof of how sports diplomacy can achieve a historical transformation of a country with reforms that inspired the Arab world,” she said. “I alone said that Qatar is a front-runner in labour rights.”
The prosecutor’s office said police conducted 16 searches in Brussels as part of a major investigation into alleged criminal organization, corruption and money laundering, and arrested four people, as per VOA news.
“For several months, investigators of the Federal Judicial Police have suspected a Gulf country of influencing the economic and political decisions of the European Parliament,” the statement from the prosecutor’s office said.
It said the alleged influence campaign was conducted through the payment of large sums of money and large gifts to people in political or strategic positions. (ANI)