European Parliament offices searched over alleged bribes from World Cup host Qatar

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European Parliament offices searched over alleged bribes from World Cup host Qatar

Belgian investigators searched offices at the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday, in a probe into alleged bribes from World Cup host Qatar.

It was the 20th search carried out in Belgium since Friday and the parliament president, Roberta Metsola, warned MEPs that “democracy is under attack”.

Belgian police have arrested four people, among them European Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili, a Greek MEP.

Qatar has denied any wrongdoing. MEPs will debate the scandal on Tuesday.

Belgian prosecutors said cash worth about €600,000 ($632,000; £515,000) was found at the home of one suspect, €150,000 at the flat of an MEP and several hundred thousand euros in a suitcase in a Brussels hotel room. Computers and mobile phones were also taken.

Since Friday, the IT resources of 10 parliamentary employees have been “frozen” to prevent the disappearance of data necessary for the investigation.

The four suspects arrested by Belgian police have been charged with “participation in a criminal organisation, money laundering and corruption”, prosecutors said in a statement on Sunday.

Eva Kaili

Ms Kaili – an MEP for eight years – was suspended from her duties as one of 14 vice-presidents by parliament president Metsola.

She has also been suspended from the parliament’s Socialists and Democrats Group and expelled from the Greek centre-left Pasok party.

Prosecutors in Greece have reportedly frozen all of Ms Kaili’s assets.

Six people were detained on Friday as part of the investigation into allegations that Qatar bribed EU officials to win influence. Two were later released.

No suspects have been publicly named, but Ms Kaili is understood to be among those who have been indicted.

The three other accused are all Italian citizens and her partner Francesco Giorgi, who is a parliamentary assistant, is among those reportedly charged.