Turning point in European Parliament scandal as Italian insider makes deal to lift the lid on corruption | World News

It has already been a dramatic investigation, but the corruption scandal in the European Parliament has now taken an unusual turn.

Pier Antonio Panzeri, 67, a former Italian MEP, has agreed a deal with prosecutors in which he will provide details of criminal activities in exchange for a reduced sentence.

He is one of four people detained in connection with the inquiry and has now admitted his involvement in a “corrupt and criminal organisation”, according to his own lawyer.

Eva Kelly, who was the deputy speaker of parliament until her arrest, is one of three others detained on corruption charges.

Eva Kelly has been suspended from her duties in the European Parliament.
Eva Kelly was suspended from her duties in the European Parliament.

She is scheduled to appear in a Belgian court tomorrow.

The country’s federal prosecutor’s office said Panzeri had agreed to provide information about alleged crimes, including those accused of accepting bribes, people said he was giving them, financial structures that were allegedly established to try. To avoid detection and, perhaps most explosively, the involvement of other countries.

The allegations also include the offering of money by nations in exchange for access and support to parliamentarians and officials. Qatar is strongly linked to this issue. It is believed that the money also came from Morocco, and was possibly transferred through a bank account in Panama.

Both Qatar and Morocco have denied collecting the money as part of an influence-peddling operation.

Despite the decision to cooperate with prosecutors, Panzeri will still face sentencing.

He knows he will be sent to prison, though he may have faced less time, and his illicit assets will be confiscated – a total estimated by prosecutors at around one million euros at the time. Is.

It is believed he could be sentenced to five years in prison, but most of that will be suspended and he could be allowed to stay out of jail while wearing an electronic bracelet.

‘He wants to see the end of the tunnel’

Laurent Keynes, a lawyer for former member of the European Parliament Pierre Antonio Panzeri, speaks to the media before a court hearing regarding his detention at the Palais de Justice in Brussels, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.  (AP Photo/Oliver Mathis)
Laurent Canes is a lawyer for Pierre Antonio Panzeri. Photo: AP

Laurent Kennes, one of the lawyers working with Panzeri, said his client agreed to the deal because “he wants to see the end of the tunnel”.

He said Panzeri suffered from depression and felt he had “betrayed” people’s trust.

Another of his lawyers said Panzeri’s life had been “ruined” by his involvement in the scandal.

The deal was announced after an Italian court agreed to extradite his daughter, Silvia Panzeri, on suspicion that she was also involved in the scandal. His wife Maria also faces extradition.

Attention will now turn to the other three men who are in custody, including Kelly, his associate Francesco Giorgi and professional lobbyist Niccolo Figa-Talamanca.

The four men were arrested last month following raids on private properties, a hotel and Parliament, which led to the seizure of around £1.3m in cash.

They are being arrested on suspicion of criminal organization, corruption and money laundering.

In addition, the prosecutor is likely to investigate a much wider range of people, especially after Panzeri’s cooperation.

Already, requests have been made to lift the immunity of two more MEPs, Belgium’s Marc Trabella and Italy’s Andrea Cozzulino.

Belgian MEP Marc Trabella speaks to the media in Brussels on December 13, 2022.  The centre-left's main political group, embroiled in a corruption scandal in the European Parliament, will this week try to insulate itself from further consequences for the influence of cash.  The case is linked to Qatar and Morocco as Belgian justice authorities target its members.  (AP Photo/Thierry Monas)
Mark Tarabella. Photo: AP

The president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsula, has promised to introduce a raft of changes to tackle corruption, including limiting access to lobbyists and former MEPs and creating a gifts and hospitality registry.

Kelly has already been removed as vice president and will be replaced today.

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