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Former EU Member Pier Antonio Panzeri Agrees To ‘tell All’

Former EU Member Pier Antonio Panzeri Agrees To ‘tell All’

Former EU Member Pier Antonio Panzeri Agrees To ‘tell All’

Former EU Member Pier Antonio Panzeri Agrees To ‘tell All’

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  • The former European Parliament member is one of four suspects being arrested in Belgium.
  • They are suspected of accepting bribes from Qatar and Morocco
  • A criminal network implicated in an EU corruption scandal has volunteered to expose it.
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An alleged leader of a criminal network implicated in an EU corruption scandal has volunteered to expose the countries involved and how the network operates.

Pier Antonio Panzeri’s lawyer said his client promised to “tell all” after reaching an agreement with prosecutors.

The former European Parliament member is one of four suspects being arrested in Belgium.

They are suspected of accepting bribes from Qatar and Morocco in exchange for influencing the Brussels Parliament.

Qatar has categorically denied using gifts and money to gain influence, while Morocco has categorically denied using gifts and money to gain influence on issues such as fishing rights and the disputed status of the Western Sahara.

The four suspects were charged last month after police confiscated approximately €1.5 million (£1.3 million) in cash during raids on a flat, a house, and a hotel. Police shared images of stashes of €200, €50, €20, and €10-denomination notes, as well as a suitcase recovered in the hotel that was loaded with cash.

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Prosecutors said Mr. Panzeri accepted the plea offer under Belgian informant legislation that had only been used once before.

“It is crucial to remember that this is a man who is destroyed and he doesn’t have much of a life left,” his lawyer Marc Uyttendaele said.

However, his client sought to “protect his status” by committing to “explain whatever he knows about the matter,” Mr. Uyttendaele added.

After leaving Parliament, Mr. Panzeri, 67, founded the Fight Impunity lobbying group. Mr. Figà-Talamanca worked for a different NGO from the same building in Brussels.

According to a statement from Belgium’s federal prosecutor, the former MEP agreed to the plea bargain under a law modeled after an Italian provision that allows repentant mafia members, known as “pentiti,” to testify against the state.

According to a spokeswoman, he faces a year in prison rather than a “far longer prison sentence,” as well as a fine and the forfeiture of €1 million in assets.

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In return he would be needed to reveal details of how the network operated, what the financial arrangements were with the countries concerned, and “the involvement of known and unknown personnel inside the inquiry, including the identity of the persons he admits to having bribed”.

The plea agreement was announced the same day that an Italian court agreed to extradite the ex-daughter, MEP’s Silvia Panzeri, 38, on suspicion of involvement in the affair.

The same court in the northern city of Brescia ruled last month that Mr. Panzeri’s wife, Maria Colleoni, may also be extradited, but their case will be decided by Italy’s top appeal court. The two women are currently under house arrest and deny any wrongdoing or money laundering.

Eva Kaili, a Greek MEP who likewise denies any involvement in the affair, is accused, along with the others, of accepting bribes from Qatar in exchange for influencing EU policy-making.

Her lover, Francesco Giorgi, was said to have admitted to his role in the affair last month.

However, a mention of “unknown” people within the probe hints that further discoveries are on the way.

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Prosecutors have also requested that two additional center-left MEPs, Belgian Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino, be granted immunity.

Both MEPs’ lawyers have denied any involvement in the incident, but the request is being considered by Parliament’s legal affairs committee.

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