The issue of corruption in the European Parliament ‘involvees a lot of Italians so they don’t talk about an ‘Italian job’

The issue of corruption in the European Parliament 'involvees a lot of Italians so they don't talk about an 'Italian job'

The suspects were caught in the act with bags full of cash: in Italy, Qatargate is already considered Money Bullet From the twenty-first century. In the 1990s, Operation Clean Hands, a major investigation into political corruption by the Milan judiciary, shook Italian politics to its roots. Thirty years later, a similar corruption investigation shocked the European Parliament. To the chagrin of many in Italy, the Italians play a leading role in this.

“Corruption has no nationality. But there are too many Italians involved in this case to talk about an ‘Italian job’,” wrote the centre-left daily. La Republica Wed, in response to a reader’s question.

Belgian investigators confiscated a total of one and a half million euros in cash in Brussels from former Italian MP Antonio Panzeri and from Greek MP Eva Kaili. She is the life partner of the Italian Francesco G., formerly Panzeri’s parliamentary aide in Brussels. All three are arrested.

The Belgian police seized a sum of cash from Eva Cayley, from Cayley’s father’s hotel, and from Antonio Panzieri.
Photo by Belgian Federal Police/AFP/Sadaqa

Morocco too

The Belgian judiciary suspects the use of cash and luxury gifts to “grease” members and employees of the European Parliament, so that they can defend Qatar’s interests in Europe.

But Morocco also featured in this study. A report from the Belgian secret service appears to have started the judicial investigation. However, he would not have referred primarily to Qatar, but to Morocco. This country allegedly paid bribes to members and former members of the European Parliament, including Panziri.

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The investigation is expected to expand further, according to Italian media, partly on the basis of information provided to Belgian investigators by detainee Francesco G. He’s been interrogated for hours.

So far, six suspects have been arrested in Brussels. Four of them were also arrested. In Italy, Panziri’s wife and daughter are under house arrest until an Italian judge decides to extradite them to Belgium early next week.

A tight-knit network of who we are

Italian is not the only nationality of many of the suspects in this case, he notes La Republica On, but also family ties. The research reveals the contours of a tight-knit network, with boyfriends, girlfriends, a wife, and a daughter.

Francesco J., a 35-year-old sailing instructor from Abbiatgrasso near Milan, formed the link between his Greek girlfriend Eva Kaili (44) and Panziri, for whom he worked as a parliamentary assistant. It would also be clear from the wiretapped telephone conversations that Panzeri’s wife, Maria Dolores C., and their daughter, Silvia, were also involved in the plot. The two women were arrested in Italy at the request of the Belgian justice and then placed under house arrest. In Belgium, police also searched the home of MP Marc Tarabella, a French-speaking Belgian socialist of Italian descent. In recent months, he has been very lenient with Qatar regarding respect for workers’ rights, including during the construction of football stadiums.

As in Brussels, the police also found a lot of money in Italy. At home with Francesco G. in Abbiagrasso it was 20,000 euros, at Panzeri’s house 17,000 euros. The family’s lawyer described this amount as “not exaggerated, even for a wealthy family.”

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Italian left

Antonio Panziri being tried and tested on the Italian political left. Between 1995 and 2003 he was secretary of the left-wing trade union CGIL in Milan, the largest trade union in Italy. Panziri was a board member of the National Party of Left Democrats, the party that evolved from the former Italian Communist Party. Three times elected member of the European Parliament.

Although he broke away from his old party (then renamed the centre-left Democratic Party) a few years ago, Panziri’s arrest dealt him a new blow. And this while the blow of the disappointing result in the elections at the end of September is still reverberating.

The Democratic Party is now calling for the formation of an investigation committee in the European Parliament.

Relationship with the Arab Maghreb countries

An interesting detail, since Morocco also appears in this case: in the European Parliament, Panziri led the delegation for relations with the countries of the Maghreb for many years. Between 2017 and 2019, he also chaired its Subcommittee on Human Rights.

Italian Member of Parliament Ignazio Corao (Independent, Greens group) sat on the same subcommittee. He remembers Panziri as being “very closely associated with Morocco” and that also as president he “strongly defended the North African country”. This often led to discussion with other members of the subcommittee. Kurao: We rarely agreed. More than once, Panziri has taken an extremely soft stance on Morocco, or tried to deflect attention from potentially thorny issues. At the same time, it never occurred to Korau to suspect Panziri of corruption.

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After leaving the European Parliament in 2019, Panziri founded the Anti-Impunity Organization in Brussels, an NGO fighting against impunity for gross human rights violations. “In this capacity, he regularly visits the European Parliament,” says Corau, who recently saw Panziri there.

In Fight Impunity, the arrested Francesco J. On LinkedIn, Gee describes himself as a “Senior Consultant” to the NGO – on a voluntary basis. Researchers suspect that the NGO was used as a front to direct bribes and lavish gifts.

The NGO No Peace Without Justice is also registered at the same address on the Hertogstraat in Brussels. This NGO, which has gained a reputation in international criminal law, was founded by former Member of the European Parliament and former Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino. She was an honorary board member of Fight Impunity but, like many others, has now distanced herself from the NGO.

Bonino, who is not suspected of being herself, said in reply that she did not know Panziri personally. But this research also affects the NGO I founded. Niccolo FT, the general secretary of No Peace Without Justice, has also been arrested on suspicion of corruption, and Emma Bonino has known him for thirty years. “He was a very dedicated and hard worker,” said Bonino, who declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

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