After learning of the corrupt scheme known as Qatargate in the European Parliament, in which several of its socialist deputies, including one of the vice-presidents, Eva Kaili, were arrested for allegedly receiving bribes from Qatar, a new scandal is now affecting the highest legislative institution of the Old Continent.
The German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that Morocco is also involved in the corruption surrounding the European Parliament. According to the investigation, the North African country bribed Pier Antonio Panzeri, MEP between 2004 and 2019, in exchange for mediating and influencing political decisions affecting Morocco.
Panzeri was one of the several officials arrested last week for Qatargate. According to the information, the former MEP received "gifts" from the Moroccan ambassador of an Eastern European country, whose name has not been disclosed.
During his time as a member of the Socialist Parliamentary Group in the European Parliament, Panzeri was vice-chairman of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and chairman of the Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb Countries and the Arab Maghreb Union, among other positions.
The Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office found more than 1.5 million euros in cash at the homes of Panzeri and Kaili. Both, along with the other two detainees, are charged with three counts of participation in a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption and are scheduled to appear before the European Council on Wednesday.
"There will be no impunity"
The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, was blunt when it came to condemning the corrupt scheme that involves and detracts from the prestige of the institution:
"There will be no impunity. In no case.
Those responsible will find this Parliament on the side of the law."
- European Parliament in Spain (@Europarl_ES) December 12, 2022
On Tuesday, Belgian police searched the offices of the European Parliament to seize evidence and information to support the investigation.