Brussels has been rocked this week by the biggest corruption scandal to hit the city in decades. Amid all the fevered speculation, the biggest question on the minds of many now is: Who will be next to be implicated?
The scandal broke last week when Belgian law enforcement detained six people and later released two, as part of a probe into suspected bribery of European Parliament officials by a Gulf state. One of the parliament’s vice presidents, the center-left Greek legislator Eva Kaili, was among those arrested.
The details of the allegations are as lurid as they are perplexing. The Gulf state in question, believed to be Qatar although that has not been confirmed officially by Belgian prosecutors, is alleged to have bribed several EU Parliament officials in order to influence EU policy toward Qatar in the runup to the 2022 World Cup, which Qatar is hosting. The individuals accused of receiving payments include Kaili, her boyfriend who currently serves as a legislative assistant to another member of parliament, a former Italian MEP who now heads a Brussels-based NGO and another parliamentary assistant. Kaili, whose vice-presidential remit focuses on the Middle East, recently described Qatar as a “frontrunner in labor rights” and made a personal visit to the country even after Doha blocked a visit by a larger group of MEPs that it suspected would be more critical of its labor rights policies.