QatarDecember 12 2022, 15:01 pm

Vice-President of European Parliament Detained Over Allegations of Illicit Lobbying for Qatar

US media is report­ing that, on Decem­ber 9, 2022, Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Vice-Pres­i­dent Evdox­ia “Eva” Kaili was detained by Bel­gian author­i­ties over alle­ga­tions of illic­it lob­by­ing on behalf of Qatar. Accord­ing to an arti­cle by Politico:

A top MEP has been sus­pend­ed from her par­ty after police launched an inves­ti­ga­tion into alleged illic­it lob­by­ing activ­i­ties by Qatar, in what threat­ens to blow up into a major cri­sis at the heart of the Euro­pean Union. Bel­gian police searched 16 homes and detained at least four peo­ple in and around Brus­sels on Fri­day as part of an inquiry into what pros­e­cu­tors called “crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion, cor­rup­tion and mon­ey laun­der­ing.” Euro­pean Par­lia­ment vice-pres­i­dent Eva Kaili, from the Greek social­ist par­ty Pasok, was said to be among those detained. She was sus­pend­ed from the Social­ists and Democ­rats group in the par­lia­ment “with imme­di­ate effect, in response to the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions,” the EU-lev­el group tweet­ed late Fri­day. Kaili was also expelled from the cen­ter-left Pasok par­ty in Greece.

Read the rest here.

Accord­ing to addi­tion­al report­ing by DW, the search­es were car­ried out as part of a broad­er inves­ti­ga­tion opened in mid-July 2022 into alleged acts of crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion, cor­rup­tion, and mon­ey laun­der­ing. The search­es pri­mar­i­ly tar­get­ed Euro­pean Par­lia­men­tary Assis­tants at 14 loca­tions through­out Brus­sels, and rough­ly 600,000 euros in cash, cell phones, and com­put­er equip­ment were seized in the raids.

Qatar, which was not named in the pros­e­cu­tor’s state­ment, is accused of tar­get­ing offi­cials “with a sig­nif­i­cant polit­i­cal and/or strate­gic posi­tion” at the Par­lia­ment, send­ing them “sub­stan­tial amounts of mon­ey” and “impor­tant gifts.” The state­ment added:

Giv­en the seri­ous­ness of the alle­ga­tions, until the com­pe­tent author­i­ties pro­vide rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion and clar­i­fi­ca­tion, we are request­ing the sus­pen­sion of work on any files and ple­nary votes regard­ing the Gulf States, par­tic­u­lar­ly visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion and planned visits.

Kaili, one of the Par­lia­men­t’s 14 Vice-Pres­i­dents, has been serv­ing as an MEP for Greece since 2014. Recent­ly, she called Qatar a “fron­trun­ner in labor rights” after meet­ing with the coun­try’s labor min­is­ter despite inter­na­tion­al con­cerns about con­di­tions for sta­di­um con­struc­tion work­ers. In a state­ment, the pro­gres­sive S&D Group in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment said it was “appalled by the alle­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion in the Euro­pean insti­tu­tions” and would “ful­ly coop­er­ate with all inves­ti­gat­ing author­i­ties.” On Decem­ber 9, Kail­i’s par­ty, the Pan­hel­lenic Social­ist Move­ment (PASOK), announced it had tak­en steps to expel her from the party.

Among those also detained by Bel­gian author­i­ties was Luca Visen­ti­ni, Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al of the Inter­na­tion­al Trade Union Con­fed­er­a­tion, an umbrel­la of trade unions work­ing towards improv­ing work­ers’ rights glob­al­ly. Oth­er sus­pects include for­mer Ital­ian S&D MEP Pier-Anto­nio Panzeri.

Qatar employs large num­bers of lob­by­ists to sup­port its polit­i­cal goals glob­al­ly. In June 2022, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed on US offi­cials involved in an ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into ille­gal lob­by­ing on behalf of Qatar. In Novem­ber 2022, the GIOR report­ed that Qatar had donat­ed one mil­lion euros to flood-strick­en foot­ballers in Ger­many in exchange for favor­able reporting.


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