BRUSSELS, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Francesco Giorgi, the partner of ousted European Parliament vice-president Eva Kaili, has confessed to his role in a Qatari corruption scandal, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The confession to the Belgian investigators was first reported by the Belgian newspaper Le Soir and the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Giorgi’s confession that he took bribes from Qatar to influence European Parliament decisions on Qatar had made “a significant contribution” to the ongoing investigation by Belgian prosecutors, one of the sources said.
According to the same source, Giorgi, an EU parliamentary assistant, tried to exonerate his partner Kaili from any wrongdoing. Greek MEP Kaili, who was ousted from her role as European Parliament vice-president on Monday, denied any wrongdoing through her lawyer.
Giorgi’s lawyer, who is currently in custody pending further investigation into the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Qatar also denied trying to bribe MEPs.
“The state of Qatar categorically rejects any attempts to associate it with allegations of misconduct. Any association by the Qatari government with the reported allegations is baseless and grossly misinformed,” a Qatari official told Reuters on Thursday in response to questions about the alleged attempts by Qatar to influence the European Parliament.
In his confession, Giorgi also said he suspected Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella of receiving money from Qatar, a source familiar with the investigation said.
Tarabella, who had previously confirmed that her home was raided on Saturday as part of the Belgian investigation, denied any wrongdoing. Her attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Giorgi also said he suspected Italian MEP Andrea Cozzolino, in whose office Giorgi worked, had received illicit funds from Qatar.
Reuters could not determine whether Giorgi had provided evidence for his allegations against Tarabella and Cozzolino.
Cozzolino did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment from Reuters, but told Italian news agencies: “I am not under investigation. I have not been questioned. I have not been searched, nor has my office been sealed off.”
The European Parliament on Thursday suspended all work on Qatar-related legislation and the speaker of parliament, Roberta Metsola, told EU leaders she would spearhead reforms to prevent a repeat of a criminal corruption scandal.
Reportage by Charlotte Van Campenhout from Brussels, Emilio Parodi from Rome; Edited by Jon Boyle
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