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.
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.
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."
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.