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EU transparency register scandal

By Duncan Mil

December 12, 2022 - Accusations that Qatar has targeted officials of the European Parliament could lead to the suspension of a parliamentary vote on granting Qatari nationals visa-free travel to the bloc.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office has accused Qatar of using “substantial amounts of money” to influence economic decisions within the bloc.

Eva Kaili, a vice president in the European Parliament, is one of four people arrested and charged in Belgium with “participation in a criminal organisation, money laundering and corruption” over the weekend. On Friday, prosecutors raided 16 houses and seized €600,000 ($631,800) in Brussels as part of the probe.

A member of the centre-left Socialist & Democrat (S&D) party, Kaili’s portfolio includes special responsibilities related to the Middle East.

In a speech in the European Parliament in November, as the month-long World Cup soccer tournament was starting, Kaili lashed out at Qatar’s critics and hailed the Gulf State as “a frontrunner in labour rights.”

German Green MEP Daniel Freund, the co-chair of the Parliament’s anti-corruption group, called it one of the “most serious corruption scandals in Brussels in recent decades.”

Transparency International chief Michiel van Hulten said the Parliament has created a “culture of impunity -- with a combination of lax financial rules and controls and a complete lack of independent ethics oversight.”

The European Parliament is due to vote this week on a proposal to extend visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen area for Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Ecuador.

PUBLISHED: 12/12/2022; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images