One of the European Parliament’s vice presidents, Eva Kaili, during a press conference. (Photo Credit: Michel Christen via EP)
On 9 December, Belgian police arrested one of the Vice Presidents of the European Parliament, Greek MEP Eva Kaili, for her alleged role in a corruption case involving Qatar.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Kaili was arrested alongside four individuals “born in 1955, 1969, 1971 and 1987,” for the suspected crime of receiving “consequential sums of money” or “important gifts from a foreign state.”
In a statement to the media, the prosecutors office revealed that they “suspected a country from the Persian Gulf is influencing economic and political decisions at the European parliament.”
"I alone said that Qatar is a frontrunner in labour rights, abolishing kafala and reducing minimum wage."
Eva Kaili, Vice-President of the European Parliament in a plenary speech. She's been questioned in a corruption investigation by Belgian authorities.
It's appalling. pic.twitter.com/P8zzsEpEXD
— Daniel Freund (@daniel_freund) December 9, 2022
As a result of this finding, a series of raids targeted 16 different locations associated with the detainees, where the agents of the Central Office for the Suppression of Corruption in Brussels recovered about $632,000 in cash and confiscated computer equipment and mobile phones.
According to Belgian-based online news website Le Soir, Kaili’s associates were identified as former Italian MEP, Pier-Antonio Panzeri, and the newly elected Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation, Luca Visentini.
Additionally, Kaili’s personal assistant at the parliament and the head of an influential NGO were arrested. Notably, all four detainees are Italian.
“Kaili has been expelled from the party by decision of President Nikos Androulakis,” announced the Greek Panhellenic Socialist Movement in a statement on Twitter.
While all detainees claimed innocence, and as the European Parliament declared its refusal “to comment on the legal proceedings in progress,” Le Soir exposed that Qatar was the state behind the bribes.
According to Le Soir, Qatar attempted to influence the EU in its favor to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and for that, has paid generous sums of money to lobby officials in its favor.
For years, Kaili was an outspoken supporter of Qatar, defending on several occasion the oil-rich emirate and rebuked the attempts of her EU colleagues to cut ties over human rights issues.
“We can promote our values, but we do not have the moral right for lectures to get cheap media attention,” said Kaili, in reference to criticism of Doha.
Greek MEP Eva Kaili has been arrested by Belgian police as part of an investigation into lobbying by #Qatar in the European Parliament.
During last month's plenary, Kaili delivered a highly rosy speech about Qatar and attacked its critics in Europe. Watch ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/37D0sMch4E
— Jorge Liboreiro (@JorgeLiboreiro) December 10, 2022
Her speeches at parliament in support of Qatar were described as extraordinary, and shocked many including, MEP Giorgos Kyrtsos, who expressed his awe on Contra TV.
In recent months the UAE, Qatar’s neighbor in the Gulf, has been under the spotlight in US media for grave interference in internal US politics.
On 12 November, the Washington Post reported that US intelligence agencies compiled a report detailing UAE’s efforts to interfere in US politics in its favor.
The UAE used legal methods in an attempt to shape US foreign policy, through more than 10,000 political activities in the US capital between 2020 and 2021.
According to the probe, Abu Dhabi employed at least 25 lobby firms and paid $64 million as fees, of which $1.65 million were paid as “gifts and contributions” to members of the US congress.
Additionally, the UAE had leverage over the previous US Minister of Defense, James Mattis, who was an employee for the emirates as as special advisor in 2015 and then 2019.