Cops confiscate bank accounts and luxury cars, as part of probe into Stefania Zambelli.
Italian police in the city of Brescia seized more than €170,000 from far-right MEP Stefania Zambelli as part of a probe into the misuse of European Union funds earmarked for her parliamentary aides, it was announced Monday.
Authorities seized bank accounts and luxury cars last Thursday, as part of an early-stage investigation led by the Milan office of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
The investigation centers on four assistants working in Italy for Zambelli, who is a first-time MEP from far-right League party — part of the wider Identity & Democracy group in the European Parliament — and is a member of the employment committee. She has spent much of her career in local politics in the Lombardy town of Salò, where she was deputy mayor, and had recently made an unsuccessful bid to be a regional council member in Lombardy.
An EPPO spokesperson said the case has nothing to do with Qatargate, a separate corruption scandal that is roiling the European Parliament. According to Italian law, it was not necessary to lift Zambelli’s parliamentary immunity for the seizure, the spokesperson said. No formal charges have been made.
“The four members of staff did not carry out the activities related to the function for which they were hired, or only carried them out partially, falsely documenting their activities to the European Parliament,” the EPPO’s statement said.
It added that Zambelli is “closely related” to at least one of the four people she hired and alleges she directly benefited from the fraud.
In a statement posted on Facebook
, Zambelli said: “I want to point out that neither I nor my collaborators committed anything illegal. Our work has always been marked with utmost loyalty and transparency towards the Institutions and the collective.”
Eva Kaili, a former vice president of the European Parliament currently facing preliminary charges of taking cash from Qatar in exchange for influence, recently filed an appeal against an EPPO request to lift her immunity over alleged irregularities in assistants’ salaries.