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Six EU Parliament members arrested for corruption in Qatar

Six EU Parliament members arrested for corruption in Qatar

Posted December. 13, 2022 07:44,   

Updated December. 13, 2022 07:44


Key figures of the European Parliament were indicted on Sunday (local time) on the charge of accepting large sums of bribes from Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup. International media outlets, including The New York Times, reported that Qatar, which had been embroiled in controversies even before the World Cup for issues including violations of workers’ human rights and oppression of sexual minorities, appears to have used a major bribery scheme to facilitate favorable public opinions toward them. This “Qatar Scandal” is evaluated as “the worst corruption case in the history of the European Parliament.

According to the Belgian daily Le Soir and the U.S. political media Politico, Belgian police officers arrested six people, including European Parliament Vice President Kylie, an aide from the Parliament's Socialist Party Group (S&D), Pancheri, former European Parliament member Pierre Antonio, and International Trade Union Confederation Secretary General Luca Visentini. In addition, 16 places including the residences of the people involved were searched and seized, and a suitcase containing 600,000 euros (about 825 million won) was confiscated from the vice president’s home. Belgian prosecutors indicted on Sunday four people, including Kylie, on the charges of money laundering and corruption.

The prosecutors did not specify it was Qatar during the announcement about the arrest, saying, “They appear to have received a large sum of money from a third-party Gulf country to influence the decision of the European Parliament.” Still, foreign media quoted an unnamed official from the legislative body and reported in unison that "the bribe donor is Qatar.

Even before its opening, the Qatar World Cup had been a subject of criticism, named a “World Cup against human rights.” In 2010 when Qatar succeeded in hosting the international event, there had been a series of cases involving the suffering of foreign workers - who were mobilized en masse to build stadiums - due to heat waves, poor working conditions, delayed wages, and even deaths. In a speech to the European Parliament last month, Kylie argued, “Qatar is a leader in labor rights. Europe is discriminating and harassing Qatar,” Right before the opening of the World Cup, she visited Qatar and expressed her support to the Labor Minister of Qatar.

“Any association by the Qatari government with the reported allegations is baseless and seriously ill-considered,” said the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denying the involvement.

Eun-Taek Lee nabi@donga.com