The first MEP has confirmed that Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili, accused of corruption, tried to persuade him to vote in favor of Qatar ahead of a vote. The Greek had apparently also targeted a German EU member of the Greens.

After the corruption scandal in the European Parliament became known, a Cypriot MEP announced that the arrested parliamentary vice-president Eva Kaili tried to win his vote for the Gulf state of Qatar. The incident happened before a vote by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), said Cypriot MEP Loukas Fourlas, tuned in from Strasbourg, on a talk show on Greek channel Sigma Live.

“As a member of the LIBE committee, I should table an amendment on a decision on Qatar on their behalf,” says EPP member Fourlas. The changes requested by Kaili concerned gay rights and respect for human rights in the Gulf state. At first, Fourlas saw nothing unusual in this. It often happens that MEPs who are not themselves members of a committee ask colleagues for help.

But he got confused. Fourlas called Director General Korniliou at the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs and asked for advice. “Hands off!” he advised. After Kailis was arrested, he asked again. “Yes, we held you back because nobody knows how far the implications of this story are.” According to this, the State Department already knew before the arrest. Kaili wanted the Qataris to be issued with a positive certificate for gay rights and respect for human rights.

According to Politico magazine, there were similar reports of Kaili’s attempts to influence the German Green MP Erik Marquardt. She approached him several times about the visa facilitation for Qataris that was under discussion: “She was more interested in Qatar than, for example, in Kuwait or other countries,” says Marquardt.

However, Fourlas is the first European politician to report prior knowledge in government departments of the Qatar scandal. Kaili later, on December 1, voted in the LIBE committee on visa freedom for Qatar and Kuwait without being a committee member. Fourlas also notes that lobbying is common in Brussels, but colleagues are now being caught with “the booty on their backs”.