Qatargate: Pier Antonio Panzeri ready to cooperate with Belgian judiciary

Qatargate: Pier Antonio Panzeri ready to cooperate with Belgian judiciary

Former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri speaks during a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, March 26, 2019. Former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri speaks during a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg March 26, 2019. MARC DOSSMANN / AFP

Former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, who has been portrayed by Belgian investigators as the mastermind behind the Qatari-funded alleged criminal organization, signed a ‘limited’ prison sentence on Tuesday the 17th.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers The European Parliament is rocked by an investigation into corruption in favor of Qatar

“Through this memorandum”, the Belgian public prosecutor specified in a press release, “it undertakes to inform the investigators, and in particular the judiciary, of the procedure [de la fraude présumée], the financial agreements with third countries, the financial structures put in place and the beneficiaries of the structures put in place and the benefits offered”. His statements regarding his involvement in the alleged facts and the third party must be “substantive, insightful, honest and complete,” the text adds. In addition, Mr. Panzeri, who is currently in detention, must also inform investigators of “the involvement of known or not yet known persons in the file and this, including the identities of persons whom he admits to having corrupted”.

In return for this cooperation, which is provided for in Belgium by a 2018 law on the status of the “repentant”, “the penalty imposed by Mr. Panzeri will be effective but limited. It will include imprisonment, a fine and confiscation of all acquired assets, currently worth one million euros.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers “Qatargate”: Investigation reveals rudimentary system of corruption

Among the four accused

Pier Antonio Panzeri, 67, was arrested in Brussels on December 9, the same day as a vice-president of the European Parliament, Greek socialist-elect Eva Kaili, and an Italian parliamentary assistant, Francesco Giorgi, who was Ms. Kaily’s companion.

Also read: Article reserved for our “Qatargate” subscribers: Pier Antonio Panzeri, from the Milan left to European lobbying

Along with Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, an Italian NGO official who is also behind bars, all have been charged with “affiliation with a criminal organization”, “money laundering” and “corruption” in the so-called Qatargate case. They are suspected of having received large sums of money from Qatar in order to influence policy statements and decisions within the European Union’s only elected body, particularly on workers’ rights, in favor of the emirate.

In this investigation, entrusted to the Brussels investigating magistrate Michel Claise from the summer of 2022, a search of Mr Panzeri’s Brussels home made it possible to discover the sum of 600,000 euros in cash, according to a judicial source. According to press reports, he also received funds from Morocco to represent the Kingdom’s interests in the European Parliament. Both Qatar and Morocco have firmly denied these allegations.

Also read: Article reserved for our “Qatargate” subscribers: Investigation reveals Moroccan involvement

The world with AFP