The European Parliament scrambled Monday to head off a scandal involving alleged bribes from Qatari officials. Qatar bribery claims damage EU parliament’s credibility. Plus, EU foreign ministers warned that the scandal threatens the credibility of European institutions. Roberta Metsola, the Maltese conservative president of the Parliament, attended a police search of a Belgian MEP’s home this weekend.
According to parliamentary sources, she will meet with rival political group leaders and address the issue at the start of the week’s session. An investigating magistrate in Belgium remanded Kaili in custody, so she didn’t attend the plenary session in Strasbourg.
Qatar bribery claims damage the EU parliament’s credibility.
Greek authorities froze her and her relatives’ assets on Monday. MEPs and transparency campaigners want stricter anti-corruption rules. Hypocrisy Left group leader Manon Aubry called for Kaili’s resignation and an investigation into Parliament’s “failures” Green MEP Daniel Freund tweeted, “This is a good week to fight corruption.” The scandal will overshadow Parliament’s agenda this week, making Wednesday’s debate on “defending democracies from foreign interference” timely. Aurore Lalucq wrote: “IF PROVEN, THIS CASE IS AN OFFENSE.
Also, a national and European insult. Undemocratic. Europe’s insult.” Qatar hoped its diplomatic outreach and World Cup glow would secure visa liberalization for its citizens. Doha denied wrongdoing “categorically.” The European Parliament often criticizes corruption abroad and has pushed for action against member states like Viktor Orban’s Hungary. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney and other EU ministers meeting in Brussels called the scandal “damaging.” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock: “This is an unbelievable incident that must be cleared up without ifs or buts.”
Because of Europe’s credibility, there must be consequences. Belgian prosecutors charged four suspects with “criminal organization, money laundering, and corruption” Prosecutors say Brussels raids uncovered $630,000 in cash. Also, Computers and phones were seized. Accused Police found large amounts of cash in Kaili’s home during a search, according to a judicial source. Separately, Police searched the Belgian socialist MEP Marc Tarabella’s home. Uncharged. As required by Belgium’s constitution, Metsola returned from Malta early to attend the search.
She remains an MEP and would normally be immune from criminal prosecution, except if caught red-handed committing a crime. Kaili praised Qatar as a “frontrunner in labor rights” before the World Cup, a sentiment she repeated in Parliament.