Wednesday, December 6, 2023

This is how the “Qatargate” plot worked: money and gifts in exchange for washing the image of the kingdom

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Those involved in the “Qatargate” scandal are loosening their tongues. According to the Belgian newspaper “Le Soir” and the Italian “La Repubblica”, Francesco Giorgi , Eva Kaili’s partner, confirmed in his statement before the judge the bribery plot from both Qatar and Morocco and has directly involved Pier Antonio Panzeri, the former Italian MEP for whom he had been working as an assistant.

In this statement, Giorgi exonerates Kaili. He assures that his partner knew nothing of this alleged fraudulent trauma to whiten the image of the Arab country in exchange for money and gifts. A version that is in line with the one defended by the lawyers of the former vice president of the Eurochamber. “I’ve done it all for money I didn’t need”, has come to declare. Giorgi only asks that his partner be released so that he can take care of their daughter, only one and a half years old. At the home the couple shared, very close to the European Parliament, they found 150,000 euros in cash and gold medals. In a suitcase carried by Kaili’s father , the Belgian Police found 600,000 euros.

After appearing before the Parliamentary Council this past Wednesday, Panzeri and Giorgi will continue to be imprisoned for at least one more month . A strike at the prison where she is under arrest prevented Kaili from attending the hearing, which has been delayed until December 22.

In addition, the assistant to the European Parliament has also accused Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella , whose address was searched last Saturday (one day after the arrests of the main people involved in the plot).It is not known if the agents found any type of compromised material, but everything indicates that the security forces need to fit more pieces of the puzzle to proceed with his arrest. Having parliamentary immunity, it is necessary to prove flagrante delicto to be imprisoned. This immunity can also be provisionally lifted if the Belgian courts decide to ask the European Parliament for the request, the same procedure used in the case of former president Carles Puigdemont. In any case, the researchers continue to study the computer material found both in private homes and in the offices of the European Parliament in the headquarters of Brussels and Strasbourg.

New involved

Within the novelties of the case, Giorgi has also accused the MEP for whom he currently worked before his arrest, Andrea Cozzolino . Another MEP who is under the eye of the hurricane is Marie Arena , one of whose assistants worked for the foundation that Panzeri launched when he was not re-elected as MEP in 2019. Cozzolino is part of the delegation for relations with the Maghreb and Arena He is a member of the Human Rights Subcommittee.. Two groups that right now are under maximum suspicion. Although the media focus has been centered these days on the vice president of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, everything indicates that the true mastermind of the plot is Panzeri who worked for the European Parliament for three legislatures, until 2019, and turned the young Giorgi into his protected.

Both the woman and the daughter of the former Italian MEP were arrested in Bergamo last Friday and the Belgian courts believe they were part of the plot and were aware of everything. Belgium has requested the extradition of the Italian authorities and little by little details of how this scheme of bribes and gifts operated. Panzeri’s wife and daughter were in possession of a credit card with money transfers in the name of an anonymous issuer with the enigmatic identity of “Giant.”. The two women also received gifts and even transported them. The man behind this obsequious spirit was the Moroccan ambassador to Poland. It is unknown if he is the same person who made these money transfers. In another turn of events, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office –a recently created body- has requested the lifting of Kaili’s immunity and that of the Greek MEP of the Popular Party, Maria Spyraki. The Prosecutor’s Office has received a report from the OLAF anti-fraud office for “suspicion of fraud” on the remuneration received by the two MEPs to pay their assistants. It is unknown if this step may have anything to do with this plot.

The EU tries to overcome

These new revelations have been made known while the heads of State and Government of the Twenty-seven were meeting in the community capital for the last summit of the year. As usual, the first point of the day this Thursday was the intervention of the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, in which she explained the latest events behind closed doors. According to diplomatic sources, European leaders have expressed to Maltese politics their “confidence” that the necessary steps will be takento protect the functioning of the institution and they have thanked him for “his frankness” in exposing the facts. The Maltese politician acknowledges having held two meetings with representatives of Qatar, although she rejected the invitation to attend the Soccer World Cup. No one doubts that this case will be a before and after in the history of the institution.

In fact, the first measures are already beginning to be announced. At the beginning of next year, a reform will be presented to protect whistleblowers , the so-called “informers” and avoid the legal loopholes that currently exist in the configuration of the transparency list that regulates the lobbies that operate in the community bubble and who You can have a pass to enter the Eurochamber. This will include ending access to so-called unofficial friendship groups.

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