BRUSSELS ( Associated Press) — Belgian police conducted more raids on the European Parliament’s offices on Monday as its president vowed to launch an internal investigation into corruption allegations and the EU’s top official called for an ethics committee. Keep an eye on all the institutions of the block.
Belgian prosecutors charged four people over the weekend with corruption, involvement in a criminal group and money laundering, as part of a wider investigation into political influence in the European Parliament by a Gulf Arab country. As a result, the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, the Greek Eva Kelli, was removed from office.
Authorities have not identified the country suspected of giving gifts or cash in exchange for political favors, but some lawmakers and the Belgian press have linked the investigation to Qatar.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry has denied any wrongdoing.
The prosecutor’s office said police raided the European Parliament’s headquarters in Brussels to seize computer data belonging to 10 parliamentary assistants. As part of the investigation that started four months ago, 20 raids have been conducted so far.
“Several hundred thousand euros have been seized in different places: 600,000 euros in the home of one of the suspects, several hundred thousand euros in a suitcase in a Brussels hotel, and about 150,000 euros in an apartment owned by an MP.” prosecutor’s office.
Cali, who was removed from his duties over the weekend, was expelled from the European Parliament’s socialist-democratic bloc on Monday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the allegations against Kelly were undermining the trust that European citizens place in the 27-nation bloc’s institutions.
“This trust and confidence in our institutions requires the highest standards of independence and integrity,” von der Leyen announced at a press conference.
Because there is no global regulation governing lobbying activities in the European Union, the European leader said the ethics committee she proposes could oversee the activities of not only the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament but also the European Central Bank, The European Court of Justice and the European Court of Auditors.
“The principle of such a body in charge of ethics, with clear rules about who should be reviewed, how and when, and what should be published, would be a huge step forward,” von der Leyen said.
Contributing to this story were Lorne Cook and Raf Cassart in Brussels and Elena Bekatoros in Athens.