1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Belgian police seize €1.5 million in EU corruption scandal

December 14, 2022

The money was seized during a raid conducted on the heels of the arrest of a senior MEP over corruption. Eva Kaili's detention has meanwhile been extended until next week.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on a screen as he speaks in a video conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France.
Belgian police have seized nearly €1.5 million in relation to the European parliament corruption scandalImage: Frederick Florin/AFP

Belgian police have seized nearly €1.5 million (roughly $1.6 million) during searches in the Brussels region as they investigated corruption within the European Parliament.

The Federal Judicial Police announced on Wednesday the seizure on Twitter, with photos appearing to show the seized cash attached.

The news comes as a major scandal concerning graft within the European Parliament unfolds.

The 44-year-old Greek member of European Parliament Eva Kaili was arrested in Belgium on Friday over allegations she was part of a group accepting bribes from Qatar in exchange for seeking to influence the European Parliament in the World Cup host's favor.

What did Belgium's Justice Ministry say?

Commenting on the unfolding scandal, Belgium's Justice Ministry said that the country's intelligence service has been working closely for over a year with the state security and foreign intelligence services to unravel the corruption within the European Parliament.

The Reuters news agency quoted a Justice Ministry spokesperson as saying that "we've been too naive" regarding foreign operations taking place inside Belgium "for far too long."

"We now arm ourselves better against this," the spokesperson added.

Ali bin Samikh Al Marri (R), Qatar's minister of labour, speaks with Greece's Eva Kaili (L), vice president of the European Parliament
Eva Kaili is accused of taking bribes to promote the interests of QatarImage: Twitter/Ministry of Labour/REUTERS

The scandal has hit the reputation of the European Parliament hard. The body is the EU's only institution comprised of officials elected directly in the 27 member countries.

It has also rocked the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the assembly, the second-biggest grouping in the 705-member body that brings together center-left parties from across the bloc.

Kaili to stay in detention pending investigation

Meanwhile, Kaili's detention has been extended until at least December 22, when an order for her release pending the investigation may be issued.

Her lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos said her legal team had requested a postponement for a few days to prepare her detention hearing.

The Greek Social Democrat, who is being investigated alongside three alleged co-conspirators, continues to deny the accusation of accepting lavish gifts and large monetary sums from Qatari agents.

Her lawyer was also cited by Reuters as saying Kaili insists she had nothing to do with the stacks of cash found by police.

Qatar has also denied the corruption accusations.

Interview: European Parliament has 'subpar anti-fraud rules'

rmt/msh (AFP, Reuters)