STRASBOURG, France ( Associated Press) — The European Parliament voted Wednesday to replace Parliament’s disgraced former deputy speaker as a top suspect in the influence-trading scandal in the European Chamber, leading to a plea deal involving More people may be identified.
Eva Kelly, the former vice-president of the European Parliament, was removed from her post after she was arrested early last month on charges of corruption, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation.
MEPs hold a secret ballot in Strasbourg, France, to choose between three vice-presidential candidates. He chose Marc Angélil from Luxembourg, who belongs to the same centre-left grouping as Cali, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D).
A corruption scandal involving Qatar and Morocco has rocked the S&D group, the second largest group in the chamber. Cali was responsible for the Middle East, but the speaker of the parliament, Roberta Metsola, wants to appoint an anti-corruption deputy speaker to repair the assembly’s damaged image. It was unclear whether Angel would receive the bag.
The Belgian prosecutor’s office suspects that Cali; former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri; Francesco Georgi, Panzeri’s friend and Cali’s partner, and Nicolo Figa-Talamanca, head of the charity group No Peace Without Justice, received funding from Qatar and Morocco to influence decision-making in the assembly. Both countries deny the allegations.
The federal prosecutor’s office said Tuesday that Panzeri had agreed to become an informant and reveal more information about the scam in exchange for a reduced sentence. He has promised to give investigators the names of those involved and details of financial deals made with other countries.
Several EU officials and parliamentarians have said that the allegations of corruption are the worst the House has ever heard. The S&D has been primarily affected, and its members fear the situation will worsen.
Panzeri’s lawyer avoided reporters as he left Brussels’ main court on Tuesday, but later said in an interview with Belgian television RTBF that the 67-year-old Italian lawmaker is now likely to receive only a five-year suspended sentence. Do service in jail.
The lawyer, Laurent Keynes, said that Panzeri would also be fined 80,000 euros and that prosecutors estimated he would have to hand over the million euros obtained in the corrupt scheme.
Panjeri “wants to talk, to take the weight off his back. He’s vulnerable, he’s closed off, he’s depressed,” Keynes said. “Under those circumstances, you want to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The scam became public on 9 December when police carried out more than 20 raids, mostly in Belgium but also in Italy. Hundreds of thousands of euros were found in a house and a suitcase at a Brussels hotel. Cell phones and computer equipment and data were also seized.
Prosecutors also suspect that Panzeri’s wife and daughter were involved in the plot, and have issued arrest warrants for them that have been forwarded to Italian authorities.