So far, Qatar has been the focus of interest in the corruption scandal in the EU Parliament. A media report suggests that Morocco may have exerted even more influence than the Gulf state.
According to a media report, Morocco played a larger role than previously known in the bribery and corruption scandal in the European Parliament. As the "Spiegel" reports with reference to confidential investigative documents, the Moroccan foreign secret service DGED was also involved at the highest level in influencing MEPs.
According to this, the DGED is said to have recruited the two Italian MEPs Pier Antonio Panzeri and Andrea Cozzolino as well as Francesco Giorgi in 2019. The latter is a parliamentary employee and partner of the deposed Vice-President of the EU Parliament, Eva Kaili. The aim was to influence the social democratic group in the European Parliament.
According to "Spiegel", Abderrahim Atmoun, currently Morocco's ambassador to Poland, was responsible for leading the trio. He is said to have handed them envelopes full of cash. In addition, the three Italians are said to have had direct contact with the Director General of the secret service, Mohamed Yassine Mansouri. The news magazine quotes Belgian government circles as saying that Morocco has recently been involved in issues such as fishing rights and Western Sahara. The country has occupied large parts of Western Sahara for decades and denied independence to the Sahrawis living there.
According to "Spiegel", the arrest warrant for Panzeri also contains new details about the role of Qatar, which has been the focus of the scandal so far. Qatari Labor Minister Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, with the help of an assistant, is said to have established the connection to Panzeri, Giorgi and the head of the non-governmental organization "No Peace without Justice", Niccolò Figà-Talamanca. However, the payment is said not to have been made in cash, as in the case of Morocco, but by bank transfer or in the form of valuable gifts. Qatar denies any wrongdoing.
Panzeri, Kaili and Giorgi are currently in custody. They are accused of "criminal organization, corruption and money laundering". After the raids and the first arrests in Brussels, the press releases from the Belgian public prosecutor's office initially only spoke of "a Gulf state". Even then, Morocco was also the focus of the investigations. Subsequent findings suggest that Morocco had tried "longer and more intensively than Qatar" to corrupt MEPs, according to the "Spiegel".