In a speech in the European Parliament at the opening of the World Cup, Eva Kaili praised the "historic change" in the host country Qatar. The Belgian public prosecutor's office suspects that the parliamentary vice-president's commitment to the Gulf state is not entirely altruistic.
Belgium's federal prosecutor began an investigation into possible corruption in the European Parliament on Friday. The focus is on at least one member of the European Parliament and a Gulf state, said the federal prosecutor. According to information from several news agencies, the Vice President of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, was arrested. Kaili is one of 14 Vice-Presidents of Parliament. The Greek had already been expelled from her party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), on Friday evening. The Socialist Group in the European Parliament suspended Kaili's membership with immediate effect. According to the Belgian public prosecutor's office, there were 16 searches on Friday. In addition to Kaili, four other people are said to have been arrested for questioning.
The investigations are about a suspected criminal organization, attempted influence by a Gulf state and allegations of corruption and money laundering, the authority said. For several months, there have been suspicions that a Gulf state is trying to influence the political and economic decisions of the EU Parliament. According to media reports, it is Qatar. Substantial sums of money or gifts in kind are said to have been distributed to persons in Parliament who held a political or strategic position.
Kaili has been an MEP since 2014 and Vice-President of Parliament since 2022. From 2004 to 2007, according to her CV on the parliament website, she was a newsreader and journalist, and later also a PR consultant in Greece.
The Belgian public prosecutor said a former MEP was among those questioned. During the searches, 600,000 euros in cash, computers and mobile phones were confiscated. A spokesman for the European Parliament said on request that there was no comment on ongoing investigations. However, one will fully cooperate with the responsible authorities.
The Social Democratic Group in Parliament made a similar statement. The faction has no tolerance for corruption. At the same time, work in Parliament on all issues affecting the Gulf States and the plenary votes on them would have to be suspended. The co-chair of the parliament's anti-corruption working group, Daniel Freund, was shocked by the investigation. "The allegations must be fully clarified," said the Green politician. Money should not play a role in the decisions in Europe's largest parliament. There is a huge loss of trust.