EU prosecutor targets two MEPs, possibly widening scandal
It’s not yet known if the request to lift two MEP’s immunity is linked to the ongoing corruption probe.
The corruption scandal involving the European Parliament took a dramatic turn Thursday, as the European Public Prosecutor’s Office announced a request to lift the immunity of two MEPs.
The first MEP, Eva Kaili, a Greek member of the Socialists and Democrats, was already detained last week by Belgian police on suspicions of corruption. The second is Maria Spyraki, a Greek MEP with the center-right European People’s Party.
The office said the request was based on an investigative report received from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), regarding “suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, in relation to the management of the parliamentary allowance. ” In particular, the request concerns money paid to parliamentary assistants.
It is not clear if the development is connected to recent allegations of an illicit influence campaign involving Qatar and Morocco.
Spyraki came out almost immediately claiming no connection to the foreign influence investigation. Prior to her time in Parliament, Spyraki was the spokesperson for the Greek conservative party New Democracy. Before entering politics, she also worked as a reporter.
“I gladly accept the request to waive my immunity in order to show that I do not have a single euro of financial dispute with the European Parliament,” she said. “The matter concerns the allowance of a foreign former colleague of mine who had a serious personal problem and was absent for some time from the European Parliament. I have no connection with Qatargate, I have no connection with any other case.”
A few hours later, the Parliament’s press service said it had started processing the immunity lifting request.
“The European Parliament has received today the request from the European Chief Prosecutor to lift the immunities of two Members of Parliament,” it said in response to a question from POLITICO. “The Parliament has immediately started the procedure regarding the request for waiver of immunity foreseen in its rules.”