Belgian prosecutors have arrested four people for alleged bribes from Qatar.
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The European Parliament on Tuesday ousted a lawmaker who was arrested over the weekend in an investigation into alleged bribery by Qatar.
“The European Parliament decided on Tuesday to terminate the term of office of Vice-President Eva Kaili,” the parliament, the only-directly elected institution of the EU, said in a statement.
Eva Kaili, from Greece, has served as a member of the European Parliament since 2014. The decision to remove her title and position in Brussels comes after Belgian authorities arrested her on Sunday.
The Belgian prosecutors’ office said in a statement Monday that it has been working for more than four months in a probe looking at corruption, money laundering and criminal organization.
“Several hundred thousand euros were seized in three different places: 600,000 euros ($632 000) at the home of a suspect, several hundred thousand euros in a suitcase in a Brussels hotel room and about 150,000 euros ($158,000) in a flat belonging to a Member of the European Parliament,” the prosecutors said.
“To this date, six individuals have been arrested in this case. Four of them, including a Member of the European Parliament, have been placed under arrest. These suspects will appear before the Pre-trial Chamber on Wednesday,” the same statement added.
Qatar rejects allegations
Qatar, currently hosting the soccer World Cup, has rejected accusations of bribery. A Qatari official told CNBC Monday: “The State of Qatar categorically rejects any attempts to associate it with accusations of misconduct. Any association of the Qatari government with the reported claims is baseless and gravely misinformed. The State of Qatar works through institution-to-institution engagement and operates in full compliance with international laws and regulations.”
This is not the first time that the European Parliament has been embroiled in a scandal about alleged influence. Back in 2011, four lawmakers were accused of accepting bribes in exchange for supporting certain policies.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said on Tuesday: “I also know that we are not at the end of the road and we will continue to assist in investigations, together with other EU institutions, for as long as it takes. Corruption cannot pay and we have played our part in ensuring these plans could not materialise.”
Top officials at the European Parliament also said in a statement Tuesday that they were “shocked and deeply concerned about the recent revelations on corruption and criminal influence in the decision-making processes” of the institution.
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