1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
Former European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili (l) smiles as her husband Francesco Giorgi looks into his cellphone in front of a shop.
Kaili and her husband Giorgi have reportedly confessed to their involvement in the scandal after being caught red-handedImage: Eurokinissi/AFP

Reports: EU corruption scandal politician partly confesses

December 20, 2022

Media outlets claiming to have court documents says jailed ex-lawmaker Eva Kaili has acknowledged partial guilt in a devastating scandal involving cash and gifts from Qatar in exchange for political influence in the EU.


Disgraced Greek politician Eva Kaili has reportedly given a partial confession of guilt in a high-profile corruption scandal that has rocked the European Union (EU) according to media reports.

Belgium's Le Soir and Italy's La Repubblica newspapers broke the story Tuesday, citing internal investigation documents from authorities in Brussels, where Kaili remains jailed.

According to the documents, the 44-year-old former European Parliament vice president — who had previously professed her innocence — has confessed to ordering her father to hide bags full of cash for her, among other things.

Kaili and husband part of a larger organization

The document quotes the examining magistrate in the case as saying that, "She [Kaili] had prior knowledge of her husband's dealings with Mr. [Pier Antonio] Panzeri and that suitcases full of cash had been moved through her apartment."

Reports say that Kaili's husband, Francesco Giorgi, an Italian who worked for an Italian EU parliamentarian, has confessed to his participation in the scandal, as well.

Giorgi reportedly told authorities that he had been part of a group that facilitated the funneling of bribes from Qatar and Morocco to parliamentarians in exchange for influence on EU policy.

Kaili and Giorgi were among several people arrested on December 9, as part of a sting organized by Belgian authorities investigating corruption, money laundering and foreign influence peddling linked to the European Parliament.

In his reported confession, Giorgi is said to have named former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri as being the head of the organization.

Corruption scandal rocks European Union

Like Kaili and Giorgi, Panzeri, too, was arrested on December 9, and is currently in a Brussels jail cell. 

Panzeri's lawyer said the former politician plans to appeal his arrest.

When investigators conducted a search of Panzeri's Brussels apartment, they found €600,000 ($637,000) in cash.

On Monday, Italian authorities agreed to extradite the 67-year-old Italian's wife, Maria Dolores Colleoni, to Brussels. Colleoni's lawyer said she will appeal her extradition.

She and her 38-year-old daughter, Silvia Panzeri, have been under house arrest in the northern Italian city of Brescia for over a week.

The younger Panzeri is currently fighting extradition to Brussels on the grounds that conditions in Belgian jails are inhumane due to overcrowding.

Both women are said to have participated in the scandal by moving cash and gifts. Moreover, Panzeri and his wife were reported to have used a credit card belonging to an unidentified third party, whom they referred to as "the giant."

Police photos showing boxes filled with piles of cash
Belgian authorities found several suitcases full of cash during its sting operation in BrusselsImage: AFP

Kaili warned associates that sting was underway

Kaili, who was removed from her position as one of 14 European Parliament vice presidents after her arrest, reportedly confessed to instructing her father to hide a suitcase full of cash for her.

He was arrested as he sought to smuggle the suitcase into a Brussels hotel.

Both Le Soir and La Repubblica report that Kaili warned her father as well as two further MEPs that Belgian authorities had initiated a major sting.

Kaili's lawyer would not confirm reports of his client's confession, yet voiced his indignation over the fact that official police documents had been leaked to the press.

After being delayed last week, Belgian authorities are now scheduled to determine whether Kaili must remain in jail this Thursday.

Damage done by corruption scandal is incalculable for EU

Gulf emirate Qatar, which recently hosted the World Cup soccer tournament, has said that it is not involved in the scandal.

Morocco has yet to provide comment on accusations of its involvement.

The scandal, one of the largest in EU history, has done incalculable damage to the bloc's reputation.

Observers say it is currently impossible to tell what toll the incident might take on the cause of electoral democracies at a moment when these are already under intense pressure in the face of what some see as an existential battle between authoritarian and democratic political systems.

EP President condemns 'attack on democracy': Barbara Wesel reports from Strasbourg

js/es (dpa, Reuters)

Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

A Ukrainian tank stuck in the mud

Ukraine counteroffensive: When will the mud season end?

Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage