Katargate Scandal: Uncovering More Players

Every day, European and world media reveal new threads of the corruption scandal in the European Parliament, whose main character is the former Greek vice-president of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili. However, other high-ranking politicians, mainly from Italy and Belgium, are also involved in the affair known as Qatargate.
Eva Kaila’s Arrest

Greek socialist Kaili was arrested by Belgian police on December 9, 2022 on charges of accepting huge bribes from Qatar. Her attorney, Michalis Dimitrakopoulus, said in December that the defense had requested that the politician testify free-foot, using electronic surveillance, but the prosecution refused to do so. As a result, Kaili remains in pre-trial detention in Belgium.
Until the arrest, the vice-president of the EP was considered an important and prospective figure in the Socialists and Democrats faction, an open person and accessible to the media.
Kaili was first elected to the EP in 2014, running as a representative of the centre-left PASOK party. She received another mandate five years later, and in January 2022 she received the position of one of the 14 vice-presidents of the EP, which was to be the culmination of her legislative work in the areas of e.g. cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
As Euronews reminded, at the beginning of November 2022, Kaili went to Qatar and held face-to-face meetings with the country’s most important politicians, including the head of government. A week later, she gave a speech to the EP, defending the Qatari authorities in the context of controversies related to the observance of labor rights in Qatar and awarding the country with the organization of the football World Cup. Then, in early December, she voted in favor of visa waiver for Qatari nationals.
Money found in Kaila’s house in Brussels – 150,000. euros in cash. Currently, the Greek is an unaffiliated MEP and is entitled to a monthly salary of €7,146 (after tax). It is unclear whether Kaili can continue to receive an additional monthly allowance of €4,778, Euronews told Euronews.
Another Negative Heroes of Katargate

Kaili is not the only negative protagonist of the corruption scandal in the EP. Her family and relatives are also involved in the case, above all the life partner of the Greek woman Francesco Giorgi, with whom the former vice-president of the European Parliament has a two-year-old daughter.
Originally from Italy, Giorgi holds a Master’s degree in political science and has been working at the EP since 2009. He started his career in Brussels as an assistant to socialist MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, and in 2019 he moved to the office of another Italian socialist, Andrea Cozzolino. Under both Panzeri and Cozzolino, Giorgi worked in the parliamentary delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries, known as DMAG, covering relations with Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia.
According to documents obtained by the newspapers Le Soir and La Repubblica, Giorgi admitted to being part of an “organization” used by Qatar and Morocco to influence EU policymaking. The assistant tried to exonerate Kaili, accusing his former boss Cozzolino and Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella of accepting cash under Panzeri’s supervision. As Le Soir reported, Giorgi was supposed to be Panzeri’s interpreter during his meetings with Qatari officials.
Kaila’s lawyer said the Greek woman felt “betrayed” by her partner, as Giorgi’s involvement in a criminal scheme led to the involvement of the former vice-president of the European Parliament in the affair as well.
Charges Against Panzeri And More Arrests

Pier Antonio Panzeri is currently in custody in Brussels. The Italian politician first became an MEP in 2004, and in 2009-17 he headed the parliamentary delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries. He then became chairman of the human rights subcommittee and held this position until he left the EP in 2019. Then, just months after the EP elections, Panzeri founded the non-governmental organization Fight Impunity in Brussels, with the stated aim of “promoting the fight against impunity for serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity.”
In connection with the corruption scandal, Panzeri was charged with mainly mediation in the transfer of money between Qatar and Morocco and the EP. Both Kaili and Giorgi pointed to Panzeri as the person in charge of the illegal “circulation” of funds. More than 600,000 are believed to have been found in the house of an Italian politician euros in cash. Panzeri declared his readiness to cooperate with the judiciary. Panzeri’s application for release from prison was deferred until January 26.
On Thursday, an Italian court placed Monica Rossana Bellini, an accountant of the Panzeri family, under house arrest in Milan. According to Belgian investigators, she created a network laundering money from bribes. Panzeri’s wife and daughter are also under house arrest in Lombardy, and they are also accused of being involved in corruption. The Italian court agreed to transfer them to Belgium.
Belgian MEP Mark Tarabella is vice-chairman of the EP delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula, a member of the EP since 2004. In November, Tarabella defended labor rights in Qatar in the context of the World Cup, using similar arguments as Kaili. The politician’s house was searched by the Belgian police, but Tarabella is not currently charged or detained. In December 2022, the MEP suspended his membership in the Socialists and Democrats group.
Italian MEP Andrea Cozzolino was first elected to the EP in 2019. Giorgi reportedly accepted bribes from Qatari and Moroccan officials through Panzeri. Cozzolino, who remains a member of the EP delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and the subcommittee on human rights, has not been charged or arrested.
Apart from Kaila, Giorgi and Panzeri, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, secretary general of the NGO No Peace Without Justice, comes from Italy. This is an entity that – like Fight Impunity founded by Panzeri – was to be used for money laundering, i.e. illegally obtained funds from countries in North Africa and the Middle East.
As reported by Euronews, he may also have been involved in the corruption scandal, e.g. Moroccan Ambassador to Poland Abderrahim Atmoun. According to documents obtained by Le Soir and La Repubblica, the diplomat had contacts with Giorgi, Panzeri and Cozzolino. In December, Italian media and Politico reported that Atmoun had allegedly offered “gifts” to Panzeri.
In early January, EP President Roberta Metsola launched an urgent procedure to lift the immunity of Cozzolino and Tarabella at the request of the Belgian judicial authorities.
This article is originally published on wpolityce.pl