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EU: former MEP charged in bribery scandal admits Morocco, Qatar links 

January 19, 2023 at 1:19 pm

Pier Antonio Panzeri on September 20, 2016 [Amine Landoulsi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]

A former member of the European parliament has confessed to being part of a criminal network involved in an EU corruption scandal, his lawyer has revealed. Pier Antonio Panzeri has also agreed to reveal which countries were implicated.

On Tuesday, the Italian politician who served as an MEP three times co-signed a “repentance agreement”, agreeing to share “substantial, revealing” information about the cash-for-favours scheme in return for a reduced sentence.

“Mr Panzeri confesses today to having actively participated in acts of corruption in connection with Qatar and in connection with Morocco and therefore to having been corrupted and to having corrupted others,” reported Euronews yesterday, quoting Panzeri’s lawyer, Laurent Kennes.

“Everyone knows that we are talking about a case that concerns Qatar and Morocco. If there are other countries, the investigation must be able to proceed without everything being disclosed to the press. And that is called the secrecy of the investigation,” he added.

READ: Morocco complains of European Parliament ‘harassment’ after graft probe

Panzeri is one of four suspects being held in Belgium. He reportedly accepted a plea bargain with prosecutors and agreed to “tell all”. All four suspects stand accused of accepting bribes and gifts from Qatar and Morocco in return for influencing the European parliament in Brussels.

Charges were brought against the suspects in December, after police recovered nearly €1.5 million ($1.6 million) in bags of cash from Panzeri’s home and other locations across the Belgian capital.

According to the Guardian, the deal is only the second of its kind in Belgian legal history, and it could implicate others who received bribes. Panzeri’s former assistant Francesco Giorgi; Giorgi’s partner, Greek MEP Eva Kaili; and Niccol Figà-Talamanca, the head of an NGO, are also suspects.

Both Qatar and Morocco have denied being part of the corruption scandal. The latter in particular has rejected allegations that it sought to influence highly sensitive issues such as fishing rights and the disputed status of Western Sahara.