The bribery plot that has rocked the European Parliament this week may have more aspects. Everything indicates that Qatar has not been the only country that has tried to whiten its image, but that this “modus operandi” has also been followed by Morocco.
Although the media attention has been captured in recent days by the former vice president of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, since she was caught “red-handed” and was still a public servant when the arrest took place, everything indicates that the true mastermind of the plot It was the Italian Social Democratic MEP for three legislatures Pier Antonio Panzeri, whose wife and daughters were also arrested this past Friday in Bergamo.
The Belgian Justice has requested an extradition order to Italy for the two women and according to this document obtained by “Politico”, the plot also includes Morocco. The former MEP, who left the European Parliament at the end of the last legislature in 2019, belonged to the delegation for relations with the Maghreb and this position seems to have given him sufficient contacts in Morocco. According to the information handled by the Belgian Justice, Panzeri’s wife and daughter were in possession of a credit card with money transfers in the name of an anonymous issuer under the enigmatic identity of “Giant”. The perks do not end here. The two women also received gifts and even transported them. The man behind this obsequious spirit was the Moroccan ambassador to Poland.
The Belgian Justice believes that the two women were not being deceived by the father of the family, but were fully aware of the entire plot. In telephone conversations intercepted by the Police, the couple even discussed whether or not to open a money account in Belgium and talked about their vacations. The woman believes that the previous year they spent too much, since they allocated 100,000 euros.The link between Panzeri and Kaili is clear. Kaili’s current partner, with whom she has a daughter, Francesco Giorgi, was an assistant to the MEP and they continued together, since Panzeri founded an organization in defense of human rights in 2019. At Panzeri’s home, 600,000 euros were found. The hypothesis of the MEP as the genesis of the plot also makes sense, since the Belgian press reports that the State security services, in coordination with those of other countries, were the ones who put the organizations fighting against country corruption. In fact, the agents who entered the home were not surprised to find so much cash.
Yesterday, both Giorgi and Panzeri appeared before the Brussels Chamber of Justice, which has decided that they remain in prison for another month. The lobbyist Nicolo Figa-Talamanca will also remain detained, but under the modality of an electronic bracelet, the Belgian Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
In the case of Kaili, she has not been able to access the court, since the prison in which she is being held is on strike and her hearing has been postponed until December 22. Although the evidence against her seems overwhelming, lawyers for the Greek Socialist Party MEP (Pasok) continue to defend her innocence. They say she doesn’t know where her money came from, 150,000 at her home and 600,000 in the briefcase that her father carried. In total, one and a half million euros have been seized, which would join the 20,000 found in the house in Italy of her partner.
At first, the prosecutor ordered six people to be arrested, although only four of them have finally been charged. They are accused of belonging to a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption, for which they have been placed under an arrest warrant.
The assets on Greek soil of the former vice president and her family, including her father and sister, have been frozen. According to the Greek press, they include deposits of more than 400,000 euros, three cars, six real estate properties and investments worth two and a half million euros. Shortly after the trip to Qatar in November, the couple decided to found a company in Athens for real estate operations. Now the Police suspect that it was a cover for money laundering.
Nobody dares to venture how far this skein can become more entangled and if there may be new arrests in the coming days. The Police continue to study the information from the computers seized in the offices of the Eurochamber and the money trail. Part of the banknotes have been issued in Belgium, which makes it easier to keep track of financial institutions and accounts.