ROME (Reuters) – The corruption scandal rocking the European Parliament, in which suspects were found with suitcases full of cash, is like something out of crime drama television series “Narcos”, EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Friday.
“What we saw were scenes worthy of Netflix, of Narcos,” Gentiloni said in an interview with Italian RAI public radio, calling the so-called “Qatargate” involving corruption and money laundering as “shameful” and damaging to the reputation of EU institutions.
“We need to react, we need to let the Belgian judiciary do its work, and we need to react perhaps with even more effective rules of transparency, especially in the European Parliament,” he said.
Earlier this month, Belgian authorities charged four people linked to the European Parliament on allegations that World Cup host Qatar lavished them with cash and gifts to influence decision-making.
Qatar has denied any wrongdoing.
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The suspects are Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former Italian socialist EU lawmaker, Greek EU lawmaker Eva Kaili, Panzeri’s former assistant and EU assembly staffer Francesco Giorgi and Italian NGO director Niccolo Figa-Talamanca.
Investigators searched 19 homes and the offices of the European Parliament in raids on Dec 9-12. A source close to the investigation said 1.5 million euros ($1.59 million) was seized in the raids.
This included 600,000 euros in cash at the home of a suspect, several hundred thousand euros in a suitcase in a Brussels hotel room and 150,000 euros in an apartment belonging to a European Parliament member.
(Reporting by Alvise Armellini, Editing by Arun Koyyur)
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