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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

EU anti-fraud office clarifies: Its MEP probe is separate from Qatargate

EU anti-fraud office clarifies: Its MEP probe is separate from Qatargate

The office examined one MEP, Eva Kaili, who has been linked to Qatargate, and another, Maria Spyraki, who hasn’t.
The EU’s anti-fraud agency said on Friday that a fraud investigation targeting MEPs Eva Kaili and Maria Spyraki is unrelated to a scandal over alleged bribes from foreign countries.

Eva Kaili, a Greek member of the European Parliament who was elected as a member of the Socialists and Democrats group, is in police custody as part of a large corruption investigation by the Belgian authorities over suspected payments from Qatar.

But on Thursday, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office announced a request to lift the immunity of Kaili and Maria Spyraki, a Greek MEP with the center-right European People’s Party. The Luxembourg-based EPPO said its request was based on a report from the EU’s anti-fraud agency, OLAF, regarding “suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, in relation to the management of the parliamentary allowance. ”

The announcement heightened questions about the behavior of European legislators.

On Friday afternoon, OLAF issued its own statement clarifying that its investigation of Kaili and Spyraki is related to allowances for parliamentary assistants and is a separate issue.

“There is no link between the issues investigated by OLAF and the issues under investigation in the ‘Qatargate,’ as the matter has been dubbed by many,” OLAF Director-General Ville Itälä said in a statement.

The anti-fraud office said it completed its investigation on November 23 and “the final report was subsequently sent to the EPPO.”

“OLAF’s conclusions,” it added, “concerned mismanagement of the parliamentary allowance for Accredited Parliamentary Assistants.”

“Financial and disciplinary recommendations were sent to the European Parliament in this regard. OLAF also intends to issue an administrative recommendation to the European Parliament.”
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