A high-ranking European parliamentarian arrested earlier this month in an influence-peddling scandal has made at least a partial confession to a judge, reported continental dailies covering the high-profile story.
According to Italian daily La Repubblica and Belgium’s Le Soir, Greek MEP Eva Kaili told a Brussels judge, "It’s true. I knew about Mr. (Antonio) Panzeri's activities," referring to a longtime Italian MEP who is reportedly at the center of the corruption investigation. "I knew about the money suitcases in my house," she is also reported to have said about bags full of cash found at her home when she was arrested.
But the dailies said Kaili was only confessing to what investigators have long known. She is said to have warned her father about the searches and instructed him to take the money away; he was arrested around the time she was, with a bagful of cash in hand.
Kaili is also said to have warned Panzeri and two other deputies. A total of €1.5 million ($1.59 million) in cash was found in the course of the scandal. Kaili is suspected of being paid by Qatar to lobby for the Gulf state's interests. She remains in custody in Belgium.
Kaili, 44, from Greece's center-left PASOK-KINAL party, and one of the 14 vice presidents of the European Parliament, was arrested Dec. 9 by Belgian police after her home was searched on corruption charges related to Qatar.
Last Tuesday, she was barred from the parliament’s vice presidency over the allegations.
Amid news of the scandal, EU parliamentarians voted by a large majority on Thursday to suspend access privileges for Qatari lobbyists for the duration of the investigation. The final decision on the matter rests with Roberta Metsola, the EP president.
Metsola on Monday told German Funke Mediengruppe dailies that she had "a clear message for all the malicious actors in third countries who believe they can get their way with money." The European Parliament will stand in their way, she added.
Qatar has dismissed the "baseless and gravely misinformed" allegations, "categorically rejecting any attempts to associate it with accusations of misconduct."