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Turning point in European Parliament scandal as insider lifts the lid on corruption

Although it has been an intense investigation, the corruption scandal at European Parliament has taken an extraordinary turn.

Pier Antonio Panzeri (67), a former Italian MEP has reached a deal with the prosecutors in which he will give details about criminal activity in exchange for a reduced sentence.

He is one of four detained in connection to the inquiry. According to his lawyer, he has now admitted his involvement in “corruption” and “criminal organisation”.

Image Eva Kaili was expelled from her duties at the European Parliament

Eva Kaili was a vice president of the parliament until her arrest. She is one of three people currently being held in relation to corruption.


Tomorrow, she will appear in front of a Belgian court.

According to the office of the country’s federal prosecutor, Panzeri agreed to provide information on the alleged crimes. This included the people who took the bribes and the people giving them. Also, Panzeri was able to give detailed information on the financial structures allegedly created to avoid detection. Perhaps most important, Panzeri’s involvement in other countries.

The allegations include the offering of money to officials and parliamentarians by countries in return for support and access. Qatar is strongly implicated in the case. It is believed that the money came from Morocco and was possibly transferred to Panama through a bank account.

Qatar and Morocco deny funnelling money in an attempt to gain influence.

Despite his willingness to assist prosecutors, Panzeri will still be punished.

He is aware that he will be sent into prison, but for a shorter time, and his illegal assets will be seized. The prosecutor currently estimates that the total amount will reach around one million euros.

He may receive a five year sentence in prison but it is likely that the majority of it will be suspended. Some of the rest may be served outside of prison with an electronic bracelet.

Image: Laurent Kennes, Pier Antonio Panzeri’s lawyer. Pic: AP

“He wants to see the tunnel end”

Laurent Kennes was one of Panzeri’s lawyers. He said that his client agreed to the deal because he wanted to see the end.

Panzeri said he was depressed and that he felt he had “betrayed the trust of people”.

Another lawyer for Panzeri stated that his involvement in the scandal had “destroyed his life.”

After an Italian court granted Silvia Panzeri’s daughter extradition, the deal was made. This was in response to suspicions that Silvia was also involved in the scandal. Maria Panzeri, his wife, is also being extradited.

The attention will now shift to the three other people currently in custody: Kaili, Francesco Giorgi, Kaili and Niccolo Figa -Talamanca, a professional lobbyist.

After raids on private properties, a building, and the parliament, four men were arrested. Around PS1.3m cash was seized.

Image: Marc Tarabella. Pic: AP

They are being held under suspicion of money laundering, corruption, and criminal organization.

The prosecutor will likely investigate a wider range of people after Panzeri’s cooperation.

Already, an application has been made for the lifting of immunity from prosecution of two additional MEPs, Marc Tarabella (Belgium) and Andrea Cozzolino (Italie).

Roberta Metsola is the President of the European Parliament and has pledged to make a number of changes to combat corruption. These include limiting the access to lobbyists and creating a registry for gifts and hospitality.

Kaili was already removed from her vice-president position and will be replaced.


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