A vice president of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, was arrested in Belgium for allegedly taking bribes to influence EU decisions for Qatar. The arrest comes after 16 raids across Brussels by Belgian police as part of an investigation into corruption involving Qatar, Morocco, and other socialist members of the European Union (EU).
Four others were detained, including General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation Luca Visentini, former socialist MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, and Francesco Giorgi. Panzeri is accused of interfering with members of the European Parliament for the benefit of Qatar and Morocco.
The raids yielded $632,606.34 USD, according to Belgium’s federal prosecutor. Investigators will examine computers and mobile phones as well. These searches were part of a wider investigation into criminal organizations, corruption, and money laundering.
"I alone said that Qatar is a frontrunner in labour rights, abolishing kafala and reducing minimum wage."
Eva Kaili, Vice-President of the European Parliament in a plenary speech. She's been questioned in a corruption investigation by Belgian authorities.
It's appalling. pic.twitter.com/P8zzsEpEXD
— Daniel Freund (@daniel_freund) December 9, 2022
Qatar was accused of trying to influence the European Parliament by “paying large sums of money or providing large gifts to third parties with significant positions in the European Parliament.” While thousands of migrant workers are suspected of dying building World Cup stadiums in Qatar, Kaili has said the country is a “frontrunner in labor rights.”
The Qatari government acknowledged that at least 400 workers had died during construction last month. Ten years ago, the FIFA Executive Committee tapped Qatar as the host and construction began; nearly 6,500 workers are thought to have died. The Greek socialist praised the Qataris as “a new generation” of intelligent, highly educated people.
S&D claimed in a statement that it had “zero tolerance for corruption” and was “appalled by the allegations of corruption in the European institutions.” The party also requested suspension of work on any files and plenary votes regarding the Gulf States. In recent months, the S&D group has worked hard not to upset Qataris, who have called for boycotts. The group leader placed responsibility on FIFA, saying it should look at the World Cup as an opportunity “to promote freedom, equality, human rights.”