Gifts of money and goods from Qatar – in exchange for benevolent speeches? A Vice President of the European Parliament is suspected of corruption.
Belgian public prosecutors are investigating suspected corruption and influence in the European Parliament by a Gulf state. Eva Calli, the Greek Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, and four other suspects were arrested. The background is an investigation into suspected bribery and corruption, money laundering and attempts to influence political decisions by the current World Cup host Emirate of Qatar.
In the evening, Kelly was suspended as Deputy Speaker of Parliament. His Social Democratic group had earlier taken this step. Parliament Speaker Roberta Metsola withdrew the 44-year-old “with immediate effect from all powers, duties and functions” as her deputy, a spokesman for Metsola announced on Saturday evening. As recently as Friday evening, Kaili had been expelled from his party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), against the backdrop of the investigation.
According to the responsible public prosecutor’s office, Belgian investigators have for months been suspecting a Gulf state of wanting to influence EU political and economic decisions. According to information received from the German Press Agency and other media, it is Qatar. There is talk of significant money and gifts for people holding political or strategic positions in a parliament with more than 700 MPs.
Corruption and Qatar
The organizer of the current soccer World Cup has been criticized over the years for its human rights situation and conditions for foreign workers. Several members of the then FIFA executive committee that awarded the World Cup to Qatar in 2010 have now been convicted of corruption. However, Qatar itself has always denied allegations of bribery.
The European Parliament had already criticized the awarding of the World Cup to the desert state two weeks earlier, citing “credible allegations of bribery and corruption”. Deputy MP Kelly expressed himself differently at that time. Before parliament, he described Qatar as a leader in labor rights. The World Cup is proof that “sports diplomacy can drive historic change in a country whose reforms have inspired the Arab world”.
On Friday, the public prosecutor’s office then launched an attack: initially, there were 16 searches and four arrests. Kelly, one of the 14 Deputy Speakers of Parliament, was also arrested that evening. In addition, her apartment was searched, as reported by the newspaper “Le Soir” together with the magazine “Naïc”.
The former TV presenter has now become the face of the scam. The 44-year-old was elected to parliament for the Pasok party, which belongs to the Social Democratic group together with the SPD.
According to DPA information, among those arrested is his partner, who works as a political advisor in Parliament. According to the prosecutor, a former MEP was also arrested, as well as his wife and daughter, according to Italian news agency Ansa. With the exception of Cali, all suspects have Italian nationality. During searches in Belgium, 600,000 euros in cash and mobile phones were seized.
Following his arrest, Greeley is under immense pressure to leave his position as Vice President. “Of course she can no longer represent parliament,” said SPD MEP Jens Geyer of the DPA. German Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Nikola Beer also expressed hope that Kelly would step down. If the suspicion is substantiated, he should also give up his seat in Parliament.
Caught in the action?
In fact, immunity applies to members of the European Parliament. Parliament’s website says, “Members of the European Parliament may not be subject to investigation, arrest or prosecution because of statements made in the exercise of their office or because of their voting behaviour.”
Exception: If a person is caught in the act, immunity cannot be claimed. The EU Parliament can also lift immunity – but a corresponding request must be made public and then passed to the legal affairs committee. There has been no similar announcement yet in Cali’s case.
The Greek is an MEP since 2014 and one of the 14 Deputy Speakers of Parliament from 2022. From 2004 to 2007, according to her CV on the parliament’s website, she was a newsreader and journalist, and later also a PR consultant in Greece.
Introvert. Proud beer specialist. Coffee geek. Typical thinker. Pop culture trailblazer. Music practitioner. Explorer.