Graft Scandal Escalates With Bid to Lift EU Lawmakers’ Immunity
The president of the European Parliament said she’s started an “urgent procedure” to waive the immunity of two more socialist lawmakers.
(Bloomberg) -- The president of the European Parliament said she’s started an “urgent procedure” to waive the immunity of two more socialist lawmakers suspected of involvement in a sprawling corruption scandal involving Qatar.
Roberta Metsola said Monday that, following a request from Belgian authorities, she’s taken formal steps paving the way for votes to remove the protection from prosecution that’s enjoyed by members of the European Union assembly.
While she didn’t identify them, the pair are Italian politician Andrea Cozzolino and Belgium’s Marc Tarabella, according to people familiar with the probe who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“From the very first moment the European Parliament has done everything in its power to assist in investigations and we will continue to make sure that there will be no impunity,” Metsola said in a statement. “Those responsible will find this parliament on the side of the law. Corruption cannot pay and we will do everything to fight it.”
The EU assembly is reeling from the investigation that led to the arrest on money laundering and corruption charges of Vice President Eva Kaili, her partner Francesco Giorgi, former Italian European Parliament member Pier Antonio Panzeri and Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, secretary-general of the non-profit organization No Peace Without Justice. Giorgi was an assistant of Cozzolino and former aide to Panzeri. Belgian prosecutors said they’re probing whether large sums of money were being paid to influence the decisions of parliament.
The parliament voted last month to stop legislative work related to Qatar and called for barring the country’s representatives from the legislature after it was widely linked to the scandal. Morocco has also been cited for its possible involvement in the case. The nations have denied any part in paying bribes.
Cozzolino and Tarabella didn’t respond to emailed messages seeking comment.
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