(Photo Credit: Bildagentur-Online)
On 15 December, Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament, stated that “the European Parliament has suspended talks with Qatar regarding granting Qataris permission to enter the European Union without a visa,” according to Al-Mayadeen news.
“We have stopped negotiations with Qatar regarding the exemption of Qatari citizens from entry visas to the European Union, and we have handed over the files to a special investigation committee,” Metsola said.
The decision was made in response to a recent corruption scandal involving Greek MEP Eva Kaili, who has also been serving as one of 14 vice presidents of the European Parliament. Kaili is one of four suspects in an alleged bribery scheme involving Qatar after investigators found €1.5 million in two of her homes.
The European Parliament’s chief stressed to Al-Mayadeen that “the investigation committee, which was formed a few days ago, will investigate every file in which there may be suspicions of involvement in corruption with Qatar.”
Watchdog organizations and opposition MEPs said the investigation could represent one of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of the European Parliament.
Since Friday, Belgian agents have carried out almost twenty police raids in Brussels in which they have seized cash worth US$632,000, according to AFP news agency.
“Four people have been arrested by the Brussels investigating judge leading the investigation,” the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office said in an official statement, according to The Brussels Times.
According to the press release, the scheme consisted of “paying large sums of money or offering large gifts to third parties with a significant political and strategic position within the European Parliament.”
Early reports indicated that prosecutors in the case suspected that a Persian Gulf country had been influencing the parliament’s economic and political decisions for months.
Later, the media outlets Knack and Le Soir indicated – citing “well-informed” sources – that the country in question was Qatar, although the government in Doha denies wrongdoing.
“We are not aware of any details of an investigation. Any allegation of wrongdoing by the state of Qatar is seriously misinformed,” a Qatari government spokesman told AFP news agency.