European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili brought in for questioning in Brussels corruption probe
By Alice Tidey & Aleksandar Brezar with AFP
Socialist lawmaker Eva Kaili, centre, chats prior the speech of Greek prime minister George Papandreou to his Socialist lawmakers members of parliament, in Athens in 2011 – Copyright AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris
Greek Socialist MEP Eva Kaili, one of the 14 vice-presidents of the European Parliament, was brought in for questioning in Brussels on Friday evening in connection with an investigation into suspected corruption involving “a Gulf country”, AFP and Belgian outlet Le Soir reported, quoting prosecutor’s offfice.
European Parliament sources told Euronews that the offices of three MEPs: Kaili, and Belgian S&D group members Maria Arena and Marc Tarabella, have been sealed by Belgium police.
Four arrests had already taken place in the Belgian capital in the morning in the same case. Media outlets in Greece and Belgium reported that one of the four arrested is Kaili’s partner.
The Greek socialist party PASOK, of which Kaili is a member, announced on Friday evening that she was “expelled” from its membership.
Belgium’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office said it recovered €600,000 in cash and seized computers and mobile phones in Friday’s swoop.
It said the investigation was centred on European parliamentary assistants but that one former MEP had been questioned.
“For several months, investigators of the Federal Judicial Police have suspected a Gulf country to influence the economic and political decisions of the European Parliament, this is done so by paying large sums of money or offering large gifts to third parties with a significant political and/or strategic position within the European Parliament,” it said.
The prosecutor’s office did not name the country at the centre of the probe. Its press statement only referred to a “Gulf state”. Le Soir identified the country as Qatar.
The beneficiaries are personalities with “a significant political and/or strategic position” in the European Parliament.
The arrested quartet have not been identified by Belgian authorities, but they are all believed to be Italian citizens, including an unnamed NGO director; trade union leader Luca Visentini; the former S&D MEP Pier-Antonio Panzeri; and Panzeri’s former parliamentary assistant with links to the S&D group and Kaili’s partner.
Kaili, 44, is a former Greek television presenter and MEP since 2014.
Contacted by Euronews, the European Parliament’s press services said that “the European Parliament does not comment on judicial proceedings”.
“As always, the European Parliament fully cooperates with the national authorities in charge. The same in this specific case,” they added.