Qatar-EU Corruption Scandal: Italian Suspect Cooperates

    Qatar-EU Corruption Scandal: Italian Suspect Cooperates
    Last updated Jan 18, 2023
    Image credit: EPA [via BBC]


    • Antonio Panzeri, a former Italian Member of the European Parliament (MEP), has struck a plea deal with Belgian prosecutors over the alleged bribery scheme between MEPs and foreign governments. Panzeri was among four EU lawmakers detained for their alleged involvement.[1]
    • Panzeri, along with former European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili from Greece, her partner Francesco Giorgi, and lobbyist Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, was charged in December after police seized around €1.5M ($1.6M) in cash during multiple raids on an apartment, a house, and a hotel.[2]
    • Two more suspects have now been implicated, with Belgian authorities requesting that the immunity for socialist MEPs Marc Tarabella (Belgium) and Andrea Cozzolino (Italy) be removed. Panzeri has reportedly confessed to giving Tarabella over €120K for Qatar-related issues.[3]
    • According to a Belgian arrest warrant for Panzeri's wife and daughter, the former MEP is "suspected of intervening politically...for the benefit of Qatar and Morocco" in exchange for money. He allegedly set up a campaign group called Fight Impunity to use as a front for the scheme.[4]
    • As part of the plea deal, Panzeri will face a reduced sentence of one year in prison — some of it may be reduced further through wearing a monitoring bracelet — and lose an estimated €1M in fines and asset confiscation. The deal is part of the EU's "repentants" statute, created in 2018.[1]
    • The news comes as a former tax consultant for Panzeri, Monica Rossana Bellini, was arrested by the Guardia di Finanza tax police in Milan at the request of Belgian authorities. She faces charges of criminal association, corruption, and money laundering.[5]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The European Parliament prides itself on being above corruption, which is why the vast majority of MEPs not involved in this case have called for swift and concrete measures to be implemented in response to these bribery allegations. These measures have already been called for, such as the "defense of democracy package," which criminalizes all corruption and issues harsh penalties for any violations.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    The irony of these so-called socialist European MEPs engaging in bribery and fraud is incredible, and the few arrests made so far may only be the tip of the iceberg. Up to 60 MEPs could potentially be involved — we can sit back and watch this display of hypocrisy as it unfolds.

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