Former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri signed an agreement on Tuesday with the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office providing that he will now collaborate in the investigation into suspicions of corruption in the European Parliament, in exchange for a “limited” prison sentence. “.
“ Through this memorandum “, specifies the parquet floor in a press release, Pier Antonio Panzeri “ undertakes to inform the investigators and the justice system, in particular on the modus operandi (of the alleged fraud), the financial arrangements with third-party states, the financial structures put in place, and the beneficiaries of the structures put in place and the advantages offered “. His statements should be substantial, revealing, sincere and complete “on his participation in the alleged facts and that of third parties, adds the text.
► To read also: “Qatargate”: the European Parliament undertakes to fight against foreign interference
In addition, Pier Antonio Panzeri, who is currently imprisoned, will also have to inform the investigators about ” the involvement of known and unknown people in the case, including the identity of people he admits to having corrupted “.
I think the priority in this case is justice. Because we are in a criminal case, we are not in a case of a little flouted regulation of the parliament internally.
French LR-PPE MEP Arnaud Danjean welcomes the acceleration of the legal aspect of the scandal
In exchange for this collaboration, provided for in Belgium by a 2018 law on the status of “ repented », « the penalty incurred by Mr. Panzeri will be effective, but limited. It will include imprisonment, a fine and the confiscation of all acquired property benefits, currently valued at one million euros. “, continues the press release. ” A five-year sentence will be imposed, but with a suspended sentence for the part exceeding one year. He will undergo a year in detention, part of which under electronic bracelet “Said the lawyer for the former Italian MEP.
Large sums of cash
Pier Antonio Panzeri, 67, was arrested in Brussels on December 9, the day of the arrest of a vice-president of the European Parliament, the elected Greek socialist Eva Kaili, and an Italian parliamentary assistant, Francesco Giorgi , companion of Ms. Kaili. Along with Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, an Italian NGO official who is also behind bars, all have been charged with “ membership in a criminal organization », « money laundering ” and “ corruption “.
They are suspected of having collected large sums of cash from Qatar to influence in favor of the emirate political declarations and decision-making within the only elected institution of the EU, in particular on workers’ rights . In this investigation entrusted to the Brussels investigating judge Michel Claise in the summer of 2022, a search of the Brussels home of Mr. Panzeri made it possible to discover the sum of 600,000 euros in cash, according to a judicial source. According to the press, he also received funds from Morocco to support his interests in the European Parliament. Both Qatar and Morocco have strongly contested these allegations.
MEPs authorize the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to make requests for the waiver of parliamentary immunity
The European Parliament on Tuesday allowed the new European prosecutor’s office, which has in its sights the Greek Eva Kaili, already at the heart of the alleged corruption scandal with Qatar, to request the lifting of immunity for MEPs. By near-unanimity (610 votes for, 26 votes against and 9 abstentions), MEPs, meeting in Strasbourg, accepted a modification of the institution’s rules of procedure allowing the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to make requests for the waiver of parliamentary immunity . Until now, only the authorities of an EU Member State were able to do this.
In mid-December, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, an independent body in operation since 2021, called for the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of Eva Kaili, currently imprisoned as part of the investigation into suspicions as well as that of another Greek MEP , Maria Spyraki. This request does not relate to “Qatargate”, but to “ suspected fraud in the remuneration of parliamentary assistants. The amendment to the rules of procedure will come into force on Wednesday and the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, should make the official announcement of the launch of the procedure for lifting the immunity of Eva Kaili and Maria Spyraki.