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‘Europe’s credibility’ at stake in alleged Qatar corruption scandal

Growing corruption scandal over allegations World Cup host Qatar lavished hundreds and thousands of pounds in cash and gifts on MPs and officials to influence decision-making threatens credibility of Europe, warned personalities.

The scandal widened further on Monday after Greece froze the assets of a key suspect in the case, Eva Kaili, vice-president of the European Parliament and one of four people arrested and charged in Belgium over the weekend. end.

Belgian police have seized €600,000 (£516,000) in cash as part of an investigation into allegations that Doha sought to buy influence. Sixteen raids were carried out by the police. There have been allegations that large sums of cash were found in a suitcase in a hotel room in Brussels as well as in an apartment.

The homes of two MEPs were searched.

“This is an incredible incident which must be fully elucidated with the full force of law,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said as she arrived for a regular meeting with her European counterparts in Brussels.

“It’s about the credibility of Europe.”

The European Parliament has said MPs will be treated accordingly if found guilty of corruption.

“There will be no impunity. None of those responsible will find this Parliament on their side,” said the Speaker of Parliament, President Roberta Metsola.

Prosecutors accused an “unnamed country” of trying to influence the European Parliament, although officials claimed the country was Qatar.

Doha rejected the allegations. “Any association of the Qatari government with the reported allegations is baseless and grossly misinformed,” an official said over the weekend.

Ms Kaili, a former television presenter, met with Qatar’s Labor Minister Ali bin Samikh Al-Marri just before the World Cup in November. In a video statement shared by Qatar News Agency, the socialist said, “I believe the World Cup for Arabs has been a great tool for…political transformation and reforms.”

She added that the parliament “recognizes and respects” the Gulf nation’s progress in labor reforms.

His office did not respond to a request for comment.

Ms. Kaili, 44, is one of parliament’s most senior civil servants. She was expelled from her socialist party (PASOK) after being arrested on these charges and was also suspended from her powers and duties as Vice-President of the European Parliament.

Besides Ms Kaili, it is understood that at least three of those questioned by the authorities were either Italian citizens or from Italy.

The impact of the scandal could be very damaging, senior European officials admitted on Monday.

“Certainly the news is very worrying,” Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, told reporters. “We are facing events, facts that certainly worry me as a former President of the European Parliament as well.”

Prosecutors said they had suspected for months that a Gulf state was trying to influence decision-making in Brussels.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said the scandal was “absolutely unacceptable”.

“Qatar is an important energy partner for the EU,” he added. “Of course, the relationship between the EU and Qatar must be built on a set of policies including human rights and labor rights.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney called the case “damaging”.

He added: “We have to get to the bottom of it. This is a scandal we need to expose the truth about so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again. »

The scandal is particularly troublesome for Parliament, which sees itself as a moral compass in Brussels, seeking tougher rules on the environment or on business, issuing resolutions criticizing human rights abuses around the world and berating EU governments.

with the agencies


The Independent Gt

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