Four people charged in European Parliament corruption investigation | corruption news

The Gulf state of Qatar, which is said to be behind the scandal, has denied any attempt to link it to the wrongdoing.

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A Belgian judge has charged four people with allegedly receiving money and gifts from a Gulf state in order to influence decisions in the European Parliament and jeopardize the credibility of the European Union.

Prosecutors in Brussels on Friday raided 16 homes and seized 600,000 euros ($631,800) as part of investigations into money laundering and corruption.

Six people were initially arrested. Four were charged and two released, prosecutors said in a statement on Sunday. They did not name those involved.

Prosecutors said they had suspected for months a Gulf state was trying to influence decisions in Brussels.

When various media outlets reported that Qatar was the Gulf state at the center of the allegations, a Qatari official said the country “categorically rejects any attempt to link it to allegations of wrongdoing”.

“Any association by the government of Qatar with the reported claims is unfounded and seriously misinformed,” the official said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera on Sunday.

“The State of Qatar operates from institution to institution and operates in full compliance with international laws and regulations,” the official added.

“Very worrying”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday the news was “very worrying”.

Borrell said no one from the EU diplomatic service was involved in the investigation.

“There is nothing and nobody referred to, either by the foreign service or by the delegations,” he said.

The European Parliament said over the weekend it had suspended the powers and duties of one of its vice-presidents, Greek socialist Eva Kaili, in light of the Belgian investigation.

The Greek socialist PASOK party said in a statement that it was expelling Kaili from its ranks.

It was not immediately clear if she had been charged in the case. Her office did not answer phone calls, nor did she respond to an email asking for comment.

Prosecutors said they also searched the home of a second EU politician on Saturday without arresting anyone.

Belgian Socialist Party member Marc Tarabella confirmed that it was his home and that a computer and a mobile phone had been stolen.

“The justice system is doing its job of gathering information and investigating, which I find perfectly normal. I have absolutely nothing to hide and will respond to any questions investigators may have,” he said in a statement.

credibility at stake

EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told Italian TV channel Rai 3 the case appeared “very serious”.

“If it is confirmed that someone took money to influence the opinion of the European Parliament, it will really be one of the most dramatic corruption stories in recent years,” he added.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Monday the news was “damaging”.

“This is a scandal that we need to uncover the truth about so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Coveney told reporters in Brussels.

The credibility of the European Union is at stake, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned on Monday.

“This is an incredible incident that must be fully investigated with the full force of the law,” she told reporters as she arrived in Brussels for a meeting with her EU counterparts.

“This is about Europe’s credibility, so it must have consequences in various areas.”

The European Parliament is due to vote this week on a proposal to extend visa-free travel to the EU for Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Ecuador.

Some lawmakers have suggested postponing the debate and vote.

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