Belgian prosecutors are investigating possible influence from Qatar in the European Parliament as part of a wider operation of organized crime, corruption and money laundering conspiracy. In a statement, the Belgian Public Ministry confirms that the “Gulf country” tried to influence the political and economic decisions of the European Parliament by paying large sums of money or gifts to people of political or strategic relevance in this institution, but a Belgian newspaper evening It points directly to Qatar.
Police conducted an operation on Friday to search 16 houses. According to the prosecutor’s office, among those interrogated is a former European parliamentarian. According to the information of the Belgian newspaper, it is the Italian social democrat Pier-Antonio Panzer. However, the main target of the operation was several assistants of the European Parliament.
“For several months, Federal Judicial Police investigators have suspected that the Gulf state is trying to influence the economic and political decisions of the European Parliament by paying large sums of money and offering large gifts to third parties for political office and/or appropriate strategy within the framework of the European Parliament”, the statement of the Prosecutor’s Office says.
According to the Belgian press, Qatar’s goal in the bribery scheme will be to protect the soccer World Cup, which is currently being held and which has raised suspicions about human rights violations in the country.
Police seized €600,000 in cash in a search mainly in central Brussels, in addition to computers and mobile phones, which will now have to be analysed. Four people are detained for questioning and the prosecutor’s office does not rule out that they will be charged.
Those arrested are between the ages of 67 and 35 (1955, 1969, 1971 and 1987), according to the Public Ministry, and are of Italian origin, according to news published by Le Soir.
Source: El Diario