European Union member states expressed alarm Monday over allegations that Qatar bribed some European Parliament members to influence their decision making. One of the body’s vice presidents has been arrested and charged in connection with the scandal.
Heading into a meeting of European Union foreign ministers, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, expressed concern over the corruption allegations — even as he cautioned it was important to stick to the facts and proven evidence.
“Certainly the news are very worrisome. Very, very worrisome,” said Borrell.
In the latest twist to one of the European Union’s biggest scandals to date, Athens on Monday froze the assets of the European Parliament’s Greek vice president, Eva Kaili, one of four people whom Belgian investigators arrested on corruption charges, reports say.
Kaili’s party in Greece also suspended the former television news anchor.
Investigators are looking into allegations World Cup host Qatar paid large bribes to influence the parliament’s policy debates. The investigators reportedly found large bags of cash in Kaili’s home. She has been stripped of her parliamentary responsibilities, which included representing the body’s president, Roberta Metsola, in the Middle East.
Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said Europe’s credibility was at stake.
Other top EU diplomats expressed similar concern.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said, “It is damaging, and we need to get to the bottom of it. And we need to have obviously a full and transparent investigation so we can have an explanation for what’s happened.”
The Reuters news agency reports an official from Qatar has denied any misconduct by the country. The European Parliament was scheduled to vote this week on a measure to extend visa-free travel to several countries, including Qatar.