Greece asks Panama to check possible money transfers from Qatar to MEP Kaili
Lawyer of jailed politician denies reports of massive deposits into accounts in the well-known tax haven.
Greek authorities have asked Panama for information regarding possible money transfers from Qatar to accounts belonging to MEP Eva Kaili, who’s currently detained in Brussels pending trial over corruption allegations.
The chairman of Greece’s anti-money laundering authority, Charalampos Vourliotis, sent an urgent request to authorities in Panama — a well-known tax haven with a reputation for lacking financial transparency — asking to be informed whether remittances of some €20 million had been transferred from Qatar to accounts that may have been opened by Kaili or her family members, according to officials at the agency.
The MEP and former European Parliament vice president has been in jail since December 9, after being arrested and charged in a sprawling probe into Qatar’s lobbying operation in Brussels that has also ensnared Kaili’s partner, a former MEP and an NGO boss. Shortly after Kaili’s arrest, Greece’s anti-money laundering authority froze all assets belonging to Kaili and her family.
Vourliotis’ request came after posts began circulating on social media that were then picked up by Spanish and Greek media, purporting to show banking documents for Panamian accounts belonging to Kaili and her family members receiving deposits originating in Qatar. The posts allege that the accounts were held at the Bladex Bank of Panama and belonged to Kaili, her father Alexandros Kailis and her mother Maria Ignatiadou. They claim the accounts contain €20 million collected through two deposits from Qatar to Kaili; €4 million through two deposits from Qatar to Kailis; and €4 million through two deposits from Qatar to Ignatiadou.
Kaili’s lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, who has insisted his client is innocent, said the documents are fake and that he asked Greek authorities to request assistance from Panama “in order to establish the forgery of the documents of the mythical remittances from Qatar to Eva Kaili.”
Vourliotis asked Panama officials to check whether there are any accounts under Kaili or her family members’ names, as well as copies of their financial transactions, and whether there are any safety deposit boxes held at Panamanian banks belonging to the family, and whether there’s evidence of investments made in real estate.
Last week, Greek authorities seized a nearly 1-hectare plot of land on the island of Paros bought by Kaili and her partner, Francesco Giorgi, as well as the account used to purchase it, pending the money-laundering investigation.
Dimitrakopoulos said the property purchase was legal and the money used to buy it came from Kaili’s own income.