The alleged leader of a corruption scandal within the European Union, Pier Antonio Panzeri, agreed with the Belgian authorities to become an informant in exchange for a reduced sentence. The revelation of more people who would be involved in a network to influence decision-making in favor of Qatar and Morocco is expected. Meanwhile, the European Parliament elected a new vice president after the dismissal of Eva Kaili, removed from office due to the same accusations.
The scandal over alleged corruption within the European Parliament grows.
The former Italian deputy of the European Parliament, Pier Antonio Panzeri, suspected of leading a corruption scheme known as ‘Qatargate’, reached an agreement with the authorities to become an informant in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Panzeri promised to reveal to investigators the names of everyone involved and what financial arrangements had been made with other countries. The case is expected to spread to more officials and governments that would have been involved.
Prosecutors suspect that Panzeri, Eva Kaili, one of the vice-presidents of Parliament dismissed in this case, Kaili’s partner and friend of Panzeri, Francesco Georgi, and Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, head of the NGO No Peace Without Justice, received money from Morocco and Qatar to influence in favor of the two countries in the decision-making of the EU Legislative, including the 2022 World Cup.
However, Rabat and Doha deny the accusations.
These are the most damning accusations that have reached the Parliament of the 27-nation bloc and some of its members suggest that the controversy could worsen.
For now, Panzeri’s lawyer, Laurent Kennes, points out that his client would receive a five-year suspended sentence, of which he would serve one year behind bars.
In addition, the 67-year-old Italian would be fined 80,000 euros and would have to forfeit the million euros that prosecutors estimate he received for his corruption dealings.
“He wants to talk, vent. He is vulnerable, he is locked up, he is depressed (…) Under these circumstances, he wants to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, ”Kennes said.
The European Union elects a new vice president after the dismissal of Kaili
While one of the main suspects in the case reaches an agreement with the Belgian Prosecutor’s Office, the EU replaces Eva Kaili, the Greek deputy dismissed and arrested for the same corruption plot.
After a secret vote, this Wednesday, January 17, in Strasbourg, France, parliamentarians elected Marc Angel, a Luxembourg deputy and member of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the same center-left group that formed Kaili, as one of their new vice-presidents. .
Our @MarcAngel_lu has been elected Vice-President of the European Parliament 🇪🇺👏
Congratulations Marc! With you, we will keep fighting for transparency, equality and justice for all Europeans. pic.twitter.com/2kCv7fZHKy
—S&D Group (@TheProgressives) January 18, 2023
The former Greek deputy and the other defendants are being held on charges of corruption, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organization.
The scandal came to public light last December after police carried out more than 20 raids, mainly in Belgium, but also in Italy.
During the macro-raid, the authorities found hundreds of thousands of euros, specifically in a house and in a suitcase in a Brussels hotel. In addition, mobile phones and computer equipment were seized.
With Reuters and AP
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