European Parliament expels VP Kylie over Qatar corruption scandal

  • Kylie was one of four arrested in Belgium
  • The Greek politician’s lawyer says he denies wrongdoing
  • During the police raid, the money was found in a suitcase in some hotel
  • The European Parliament’s role as the group’s moral compass is at stake

STRASBOURG, Dec 13 (Reuters) – A Greek MP accused of accepting bribes from Qatar in one of the biggest corruption scandals to hit Brussels The European Parliament on Tuesday fired Eva Kylie as the vice-president of the assembly.

Cayley has denied any wrongdoing, but European lawmakers have moved quickly to isolate him, worried that the Belgian investigation could damage the legislature’s efforts to present itself as a good moral compass in a troubled world.

“It cannot be swept under the carpet. Our internal investigation will look at what happened and how we can make our systems watertight,” said European Parliament President Roberta Metzola, as 625 MEPs voted to strip Gaily of her VP post. One voted against and two abstained.

Kylie, who is in police custody, was one of 14 deputy speakers in parliament.

Belgian prosecutors over the weekend charged him and three Italians with participating in a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption.

A source close to the investigation said they are believed to have received money from World Cup host Qatar. Gulf governments have denied any wrongdoing.

A source close to the investigation said police searched several buildings in Brussels, including parliamentary offices and 19 homes, and found about 1.5 million euros ($1.58 million), some of which was stashed in a suitcase in a hotel room.

Kylie’s lawyer in Greece, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday. “She had nothing to do with funding from Qatar, clearly and unequivocally nothing,” he told Open TV in his first public comments.

Nevertheless, many MEPs called for the 44-year-old socialist politician to leave the House altogether.

“Given the level of corruption, this is the least we expect from her,” said MEP Manon Aubry, co-chair of the left group.

Ali bin Samiq Al Marri, Minister of Labor of Qatar, speaks with Eva Kaili, Vice President of the European Parliament of Greece, during a meeting in Qatar on Oct. 31, 2022, in this social media handout picture. State of Qatar via Twitter/Ministry of Labor – REUTERS

Corruption

Countries facing criticism from the council said they had lost the moral high ground.

“The European Parliament can no longer credibly talk about corruption,” Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szyjardo wrote on Facebook.

Belgian prosecutors said they suspected a Gulf state of trying to buy influence in Brussels for more than four months. Although no state has been publicly named by prosecutors, a source familiar with the case said it was Qatar.

None of the four accused were formally identified, but their names were quickly leaked to the press.

According to a source familiar with the case, the other defendants are former EU lawmaker Pier Antonio Panceri, Kylie’s partner Francesco Giorgi, a parliamentary aide, and Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, secretary general of the Human Rights Campaign group.

Calls and emails by Reuters to their respective offices or homes went unanswered.

Gaili was one of the young aspiring Greek politicians to emerge from the crippling debt crisis that rocked Greece from 2010 to 2015. The Greek socialist PASOK party said it would expel him from its posts.

On November 21, at the start of the month-long World Cup in the European Parliament, he lashed out at Qatar’s protesters and hailed the energy-rich Gulf nation as a “leader in labor rights”.

In the run-up to the World Cup, Qatar faced heavy criticism for its human rights record, including its treatment of migrant workers.

Additional reporting by Phil Blenkinsop, Karolina Tagaris, Clement Rossignol, Max Schwarz, Lefteris Papadimas, Michele Kambas, Alan Charlish, Giselda Vagnoni; By Ingrid Melander; Editing by Edmund Blair and Crispian Palmer

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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