- Elsa Mishman
- BBC News
Eva Kayley, Vice-President of the European Parliament, was arrested for investigation into allegations of receiving bribes from a Gulf country.
The Belgian investigative authorities believe that the country, which has not been named explicitly, has tried to influence the decision of the European Parliament, whether with money or gifts.
Four others were also arrested in the European Parliament, according to Agence France-Presse.
Local media suggested that the country in question was Qatar – but a Qatari government spokesman said he had not heard of any investigation, denying any wrongdoing.
Kylie is among the 14 European Parliament lawmakers elected as Vice-Presidents of Parliament.
Kylie was suspended from the European Parliament’s Socialists and Democrats group and expelled from the centre-left Hellenic Socialist Movement party.
In a statement, the Socialists and Democrats said it had “zero tolerance” of corruption, stressing its support for an investigation.
Belgian police seized cash worth about $632,000 in 16 searches on Friday in Brussels. The police also confiscated computers and mobile phones to check their contents.
Investigators suspected that a Gulf state had influenced economic and political decisions passed by parliament over many months, a spokesman for the Belgian federal government said in a statement.
The country in question was accused of targeting assistant deputies in the European Parliament.
The statement said: “This was done in this way through the payment of large sums of money or the provision of huge gifts to third parties occupying high political positions and / or strategic positions within the European Parliament.”
A broader investigation is underway into whether there is criminal organization, corruption and money laundering.
Belgian media sources named Qatar as the country in question, saying they were based on information obtained from “informed sources”. The BBC has not been able to verify these allegations.
A spokesman for the Qatari government told Agence France-Presse: “We are not aware of any details related to the investigation. Any allegations of wrongdoing by the State of Qatar are completely misleading.”
A Qatari government spokesman confirmed that his country “fully adheres to international laws and rules.”
A spokesman for the European Parliament told Reuters news agency that Parliament would not comment on the ongoing investigations, but would cooperate with local authorities if requested.
By chance, Kylie and the four others were arrested on International Anti-Corruption Day – December 9th.
Corruption costs the EU economy between 179 and 990 billion euros annually.
Qatar is constantly facing accusations of corruption, including with regard to its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, which is currently underway. But Qatar denied these accusations of corruption, and the International Federation of Football Associations, FIFA, acquitted them.
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