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Lawmaker Eva Kaili and 3 others charged with alleged bribery scheme involving Qatar

A member of the European Parliament implicated in an alleged corruption scheme involving Qatar will remain in detention until at least next week after a judge postponed her hearing on Wednesday, court officials told The Associated Press.

Eva Kaili, a Greek-European lawmaker and vice-president of the European Union’s governing body whose term was rescinded this week by her fellow lawmakers, had previously been scheduled to appear before a judge in Brussels on Wednesday along with three other people who were also in custody. in relation to the case. Kaili’s lawyers have said she denies any involvement in the alleged scandal.

Kaili’s lawyer, André Risopoulos, said her hearing has been rescheduled for December 22, but declined to provide further details. The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office confirmed the new date, when a judge will decide whether to keep her in custody.

Police have already carried out more than 20 raids, mainly in Belgium but also in Italy, as part of an investigation into alleged bribery for political favors. Prosecutors said in a statement that they suspect that people “in political and/or strategic positions within the European Parliament received large sums of money or offered substantial gifts to influence Parliament’s decisions.”

Lobbying scandal in Europe
In this photo provided by the European Parliament, Greek politician and European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili speaks during the European Book Prize award ceremony in Brussels, December 7, 2022.

European Parliament via AP

Prosecutors have charged four people, including Kaili, with corruption, involvement in a criminal group and money laundering.

Belgian authorities have not identified the Gulf country suspected of offering cash or gifts to parliament officials, but several members of the assembly and some Belgian media have linked the investigation to the host of the soccer World Cup, ​Qatar.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the EU’s relations with any foreign country implicated in the bribery would be affected if it were confirmed.

“Trying to influence our decision-making with bribery, if that were confirmed to be the case, that it was related to certain countries, I wouldn’t see how it wouldn’t have consequences on the relationship,” he said. “First of all, the mistake is with people who allow themselves to be bribed. Let’s be clear on that. But it’s not just them. There are always two sides to this.”

Qatar has arguably received some rave reviews in Europe this year, but allegations that European officials were paid to provide it would be hard to establish. However, investigators have seized hundreds of thousands of euros from officials’ homes, according to Belgian prosecutors.

De Croo added that the scandal is proof of the need for “more scrutiny and more transparency in the European Parliament.”

“We are partners with the president, Roberta Metsola, to improve the operation and bring more transparency and really go to the bottom of the investigation that is being carried out,” he said.

Speaking about the bribery investigation on CBS News on Wednesday morning, senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata explained why the European Union has taken these allegations so seriously.

“Well, they want to end the corruption and the accusations of corruption,” D’Agata said.

“In theory, however, the European Union holds itself in very high regard, and there are certain thresholds that must be reached. And very high up on that is corruption,” he added. “So when there are suggestions, insinuations, accusations of corruption, they want to slam the door very quickly. I mean, other members of the MEP have said: ‘This is a serious threat to European democracy.’

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, described the allegations as “of the utmost concern” and “very serious” in comments to journalists on Monday.

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