Vice president of EU parliament terminated over bribery scandal
Eva Kaili has been terminated as the vice president, but remains a member of the EU parliament.
Over a recent bribery scandal, the European Parliament has voted in favor of terminating Eva Kaili - the EU body's vice president - but she will continue to be a parliament member, according to Tuesday's vote results. The decision was made in a 625-1 vote, with 2 abstentions.
"In view of the ongoing investigations, @Europarl_EN has decided that Eva Kaili is no longer one of its Vice-Presidents. This decision is effective immediately. We will continue to fully cooperate with relevant national law enforcement and judicial authorities," said Roberta Metsola, the head of the parliament.
In view of the ongoing investigations,@Europarl_EN has decided that Eva Kaili is no longer one of its Vice-Presidents.— Roberta Metsola (@EP_President) December 13, 2022
This decision is effective immediately.
We will continue to fully cooperate with relevant national law enforcement and judicial authorities.
According to a German news agency, the agreement to dismiss Kaili is pending a vote at a plenary session, with Metsola noting that the EU Parliament will hold a vote on the termination of Kaili's office over the recent bribery scandal.
"Today I have convened an extraordinary meeting of the conference of presidents on the application of rule 21 on the early termination of office of Vice President Eva Kaili, the conference unanimously decided to propose to parliament that it bring to an end the term of office of vice president Eva Kaili," Metsola told the parliament.
On her part, Kaili denies taking a bribe from Qatar, in addition to denying guilt of corruption. She dealt with charges brought by Belgian authorities, turning an accusation into a scandal. She also denied hoarding $158,000 in cash in a child's bed found in a search at her residence, according to Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, a lawyer speaking to Greece TV.
"Her position is that she is not guilty. She has nothing to do with financing from Qatar," Dimitrakopoulos said.
"I have no idea whether any money was found and how much was found. The only thing that I can tell you... is that there is no baby's bed where the hidden money was found. I deny it, saying this directly to you since her sister... told me that," the lawyer added.
Investigators had suspected a Gulf country of influencing the EU parliament
Belgian authorities last week conducted arrests and searches in Brussels as part of an investigation into corruption allegations in the EU parliament, particularly in relation to holding the World Cup in Qatar and illicit lobbying in favor of Doha.
On Friday, Kaili and her partner were detained and their residency was searched, with the police reportedly finding "bags of cash" on the premises. Shortly after, Kaili was expelled from the party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. Then, Metsola "decided to suspend with immediate effect all powers, duties, and tasks that were delegated to Eva Kaili in her capacity as Vice-President of the European Parliament," according to a spokesperson.
On Twitter, Metsola said that the parliament "stands firmly against corruption," adding they would do everything they could to "assist the course of justice."
Four other people, including a former MEP, were detained on December 9 in Belgium.
Investigators have for several months "suspected a Gulf country of influencing the economic and political decisions of the European Parliament, and this by transferring consequential sums of money or giving sizeable gifts to third parties with a significant and/or strategic position within the European Parliament," the prosecutor's office said.
The police said this was allegedly done “by paying large sums of money or offering large gifts to third parties with a significant political and/or strategic position within the European Parliament.”