Caught in the act with a bag full of banknotes: scandal among the socialists in the European Parliament

The European Parliament is embroiled in a major scandal. The Greek Social Democratic vice president Eva Kaili has been arrested. She is suspected of receiving bribes from Qatar to influence decisions in their favor. The case also has a Belgian touch: this weekend the investigators also raided Marc Tarabella of the PS.

Hannes Heynderickx and Dirk Coosemans

MEPs are gathering today as planned in Strasbourg. Yet, for once, political current events will not be at the top of the agenda. The Social Democratic parliamentary group is embroiled in an unprecedented scandal. On Friday, the Greek vice-president, Eva Kaili, was arrested in our country. Normally she enjoys parliamentary immunity, but she was caught in the act with a bag full of money notes, which led to her arrest. She and three others are charged with membership in a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption. She is said to have received a bribe from Qatar, which is currently hosting the World Cup, for influencing decisions in parliament and promoting a positive image of Qatar.

Her colleagues are outraged. “This is terrible and dramatic for the reputation of parliament,” says Kathleen Van Brempt, MEP for Vooruit and Kaili’s group colleague. She has also been wide-eyed at the images now circulating of Kaili, in which the Greek trumpets the praises of human rights in Qatar. “In hindsight it is of course easy to talk. But Kaili is not really concerned with human rights in parliament at all. So you could ask yourself why she suddenly came up with Qatar,” says Van Brempt. Kaili, meanwhile, was expelled from her group and suspended as vice-chairman.


Belgium is also involved

But the scandal is not limited to Kaili alone. FG, parliamentary assistant for the social democrats and partner of Kaili, has also been arrested. That assistant used to work for the Italian former MEP Antonio Panzeri. In his house money was found for 600,000 euros in cash. According to Italian media, his wife and daughter have also been arrested in Italy following a European arrest warrant. Panzeri would be seen by the investigators as a key figure.

©  via REUTERS

The scandal also has a Belgian offshoot. On Friday, the office of a Marie Arena employee was sealed. She sits in the European Parliament for the PS and in the past was even Prime Minister of the French Community. The office of an employee of Marc Tarabella (PS) was also sealed. But on Saturday night, the detectives also raided Tarabella himself. European Parliament President Roberta Metsola flew back to Belgium from Malta especially for this purpose. The investigators took his mobile phone and a laptop from Tarabella’s house in Liège. “I have absolutely nothing to hide and I will answer any questions from investigators if it helps them shed light on this matter,” the MP said.

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