The European Parliament has remained largely silent on corruption allegations involving a senior member of the European Parliament (MEP) in a leadership position.
Eva Kaili, a Greek MEP and a vice president of the EP, is now at the center of one of the EU's biggest corruption scandals, accused of being paid by Qatar to lobby for the Gulf state's interests.
She was arrested on Dec. 9 by Belgian police after her home was searched on corruption charges allegedly linked to Qatar. She was subsequently removed from the European Parliament's vice presidency and dismissed from Greece’s PASOK-KINAL party over the allegations.
The high-profile corruption scandal looms large in parliament, but officials' silence is seen as a tendency to sweep the dirt under the carpet.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen were among the first politicians to speak out on the scandal, but few others followed.
Also arrested were Kaili's partner Francesco Giorgi, who works as the aide to another MEP, as well as Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, the director of an NGO, and former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri.
The parliamentary immunity of Italian MEP Andrea Cozzolino and Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella are under review.
They are all accused of receiving bribes for defending Qatar and Morocco's interests at the EU Parliament.
In searches, authorities discovered large amounts of cash at Kaili and Panzeri's residencies.
Kaili used to work at the EU Parliament on topics such as the digital agenda, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. However, she also made efforts in favor of Qatar, a country which she visited, according to allegations.
Panzeri was a member of the socialist group for three terms, until 2019. He then founded the NGO Fight Impunity. Some €600,000 ($650,100) was found in his house. He confessed to his crimes and turned witness, agreeing to help Belgian authorities.
Starting in 2009, Giorgi worked for Panzeri and then Cozzolino in the EU Parliament. He admitted his role in the scandal, and said that Cozzolino and Tarabella took bribes under the supervision of Panzeri, according to media reports.
Figa-Talamanca's NGO No Peace Without Justice shares the same address as Panzeri's NGO and works on human rights and democracy in mainly the Mideast and North Africa.
Tarabella, a socialist MEP since 2004, was part of a committee responsible for relations with the Arabian Peninsula.
Cozzolino was elected to the EP in 2019. He became a member of the delegation in charge of relations with North African countries.
Qatar has dismissed the "baseless and gravely misinformed" allegations, "categorically rejecting any attempts to associate it with accusations of misconduct."
Source: Anadolu Agency