Former EU parliament VP admits corruption connection – media
Eva Kaili, a Greek lawmaker and former EU parliament vice president, has told Belgian investigators that she tasked her father with hiding a suitcase full of cash during a police crackdown on a Qatari bribery scheme, Italy’s La Repubblica reported on Tuesday. Kaili, whose husband has already reportedly admitted to taking bribes from Doha, had previously denied any involvement in the graft ring.
According to documents cited by the Italian newspaper and by Belgium’s Le Soir, Kaili confessed that on the night of a police raid on her address on December 9, she told her father to remove a suitcase of cash from the property. Her father was later arrested while leaving a nearby hotel with several hundred thousand euros.
Kaili said that she then tipped off two other MEPs about the police operation, the report continued. Quoting a court document, the paper said that Kaili “had prior knowledge” of her husband’s involvement in the bribery scheme, and knew that “suitcases full of cash had been moved through her apartment.”
The scheme involved Qatari officials paying huge sums of cash to EU lawmakers in exchange for influence in Brussels. Kaili’s husband, an Italian national named Francesco Giorgi, already confessed to handling this cash, Reuters reported last week. Giorgi also reportedly named his former boss, ex-MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, as the leader of the ring.
Kaili, Giorgi, Panzeri and one other unnamed individual have been charged with “participation in a criminal organization, money laundering, and corruption,” Belgian prosecutors said last week. Panzeri’s wife and daughter are currently under arrest in Italy, and are believed to have participated in the scandal by moving cash and gifts.
When news of her arrest first broke, Kaili’s lawyer said that the former MEP “declares her innocence and that she has nothing to do with bribery from Qatar.”
Kaili, who is Greek, has been removed from office and the European Parliament has halted all legislative work related to Qatar. The parliament voted almost unanimously last Thursday to deny Qatari representatives access to its premises and condemned the alleged “foreign interference” in its business.
Doha denies any involvement in the scandal, and its mission to the EU warned the bloc on Sunday that reprisals by Brussels could jeopardize the supply of Qatari gas to EU member states.