A top MEP has been suspended from her party after police launched an investigation into alleged illicit lobbying activities by Qatar, in what threatens to blow up into a major crisis at the heart of the European Union.
Belgian police searched 16 homes and detained at least four people in and around Brussels on Friday as part of an inquiry into what prosecutors called “criminal organization, corruption and money laundering,” as first reported by Belgian media and confirmed to POLITICO by Belgian federal police.
European Parliament vice-president Eva Kaili, from the Greek socialist party Pasok, was said to be among those detained. She was suspended from the Socialists and Democrats group in the parliament “with immediate effect, in response to the ongoing investigations,” the EU-level group tweeted late Friday. Kaili was also expelled from the center-left Pasok party in Greece.
The raids triggered a scandal for the Parliament and the Socialists and Democrats group in particular, which has been criticized over its soft stance on Qatar in the run-up to the football World Cup.