Searches, arrests and a party expulsion – the EU Parliament is the focus of extensive corruption investigations by Belgian investigators. At the same time, it is about alleged bribery by a Gulf state.

Investigations into corruption, money laundering and attempts to influence a Gulf state shake the European Parliament. In this context, according to information from the German Press Agency, the Vice President of the EU Parliament, the Greek Eva Kaili, was arrested on Friday. According to the Belgian public prosecutor’s office, there were a total of 16 searches and five people were arrested.

The authority announced that the investigation was about a suspected criminal organization and allegations of corruption and money laundering. For several months, there have been suspicions that a Gulf state is trying to influence the political and economic decisions of the EU Parliament. Substantial sums of money or gifts in kind are said to have been distributed to persons in Parliament who held a political or strategic position.

The public prosecutor’s office did not say which Gulf state is allegedly trying to exert influence. According to research by the newspaper “Le Soir” and the magazine “Knack”, it is the Emirate of Qatar.

Kaili, who has now been arrested, gave a speech in the European Parliament on November 21 about the current World Cup in Qatar. In it, the 44-year-old politician described the sporting event as proof “that sports diplomacy can bring about historic change in a country whose reforms have inspired the Arab world”. Qatar is a pioneer when it comes to labor rights, for example. Previously, Kaili had met Qatari Labor Minister Samikh Al Marri, as Qatari EU Ambassador Christian Tudor wrote on Twitter.

Kaili’s Greek party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), expelled her on Friday as a result of the events, party leader Nikos Androulakis said. The Socialist Group in the European Parliament suspended Kaili’s membership with immediate effect.

Kaili has been an MEP since 2014 and one of 14 Vice-Presidents of Parliament since 2022. From 2004 to 2007, according to her CV on the parliament website, she was a newsreader and journalist, and later also a PR consultant in Greece.

The Belgian public prosecutor’s office has now announced that a former MEP was among those questioned. During the searches, 600,000 euros in cash and mobile phones were confiscated.

A spokesman for the European Parliament said on request that there was no comment on ongoing investigations. However, one will fully cooperate with the responsible authorities.

The Social Democratic Group in Parliament made a similar statement. The faction has no tolerance for corruption. At the same time, work in Parliament on all issues affecting the Gulf States and the plenary votes on them would have to be suspended.

The co-chair of the parliament’s anti-corruption working group, Daniel Freund, was shocked by the investigation. “The allegations must be fully clarified,” said the Green politician. Money should not play a role in the decisions in Europe’s largest parliament. There is a huge loss of trust.