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Alleged corruption scandal | Suspected former MEP agrees to cooperate with justice



(Brussels) Spectacular rebound in Qatargate: the former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, a key suspect currently imprisoned, agreed on Tuesday to collaborate with Belgian justice and to deliver what he knows about this alleged corruption scandal for the benefit of the Qatar.

At the end of this agreement, the former elected socialist undertakes to inform the investigators of the modus operandi of fraud, the financial arrangements with third States, the identity of the people “he admits to having corrupted” and the possible involvement of people “not yet known in the file”.

His statements must be “substantial, revealing, sincere and complete”, specified the federal prosecutor’s office.

In exchange for this cooperation, the ex-MP, who in 2019 became leader of the NGO Fight Impunity established in Brussels, will be sentenced to a “limited” prison term.

His lawyer Laurent Kennes clarified that this sentence negotiated with the prosecution would not exceed one year. “A sentence of five years will be pronounced, but with a reprieve for the part exceeding one year. This means that he will undergo a year in detention, part of which under electronic bracelet, “said Mr.e Kennes.

“Want to unpack”

“He wants to unpack, he wants to see the end of the tunnel,” added the lawyer on the French-language channel RTBF, stressing that Mr. Panzeri had “admitted to having been one of the leaders of a criminal organization […] in connection with Qatar and Morocco”.

According to the press, Morocco used the Italian official as an entry point to support its interests in the European Parliament. But like Qatar, the Cherifian kingdom has strongly contested these allegations of corruption.


Pier Antonio Panzeri’s lawyer, M.e Laurent Kennes

The draft agreement between Mr. Panzeri and the federal prosecutor has yet to be validated by the council chamber, the judicial review of the investigation in Belgium.

Pier Antonio Panzeri, 67, was arrested in Brussels on December 9, the day of a wave of searches and arrests at the end of which a vice-president of the European Parliament, the elected Greek socialist Eva Kaili, also found locked up.

Same scenario for parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgi, companion of Mme Kaili, and for Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, another NGO official, also Italian.

These four suspects, imprisoned for more than five weeks, have all been charged with “belonging to a criminal organization”, “money laundering” and “corruption”.

They are suspected of having collected large sums of cash to influence in favor of foreign powers political declarations and decision-making within the only elected institution of the EU, in particular concerning workers’ rights in Qatar.


Mr. Panzeri is a central figure in the investigation. During the crackdown on December 9, the Belgian police discovered 600,000 euros in cash at his Brussels home, according to a judicial source.

He will now have to explain the origin of these funds and the precise object of the corruption.

On Tuesday, Maxim Töller, lawyer for Marc Tarabella, again strongly disputed that this Belgian socialist MEP – whose justice requested the lifting of immunity – could be one of the “corrupt”.

“Whether it was a gift or money, Mr. Tarabella received nothing,” argued the lawyer, saying that Mr. Panzeri’s statements to investigators, quoted by the newspaper The Echoaccording to which he paid the Belgian “between 120,000 and 140,000 euros”, were false.

Mr. Tarabella’s home in the Liège region (east) had been searched on December 10 as part of the investigation, but no cash had been discovered.

After Serbian players’ agent Dejan Veljkovic, in a vast corruption scandal in Belgian football, Pier Antonio Panzeri is the second to benefit from a 2018 Belgian law on the status of “repentant”, modeled on the Italian antimafia practice .

In addition to the prison sentence, the memorandum provides for a fine (80,000 euros according to his lawyer) and the confiscation of “all acquired property benefits, currently valued at one million euros”.

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