(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)
BAKU, Azerbaijan, January 30. The MEP
corruption scandal in the European Parliament is spreading. The
Belgian police have seized nearly 1.5 million euros in cash, as
they investigated corruption within the European Parliament.
Evidence was found that illicit scheme involved Qatari and Moroccan
officials influencing EU institutions with gifts and money.
According to the Latvian TV3 program“Nekā personīga”, former
Latvian diplomat and Advisor of the center-left Socialists &
Democrats group to Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Eldar
Mammadov is also involved in the scandal.
The arrested adviser confessed to the crimes and is ready to
name all those bribed in the Parliament. Currently, Mammadov has
been suspended from his duties and prefers not to talk to the
media, while the investigation is underway.
Before the FIFA World Cup, Qatar was criticized a lot. Qatar
lacked many of the stadiums needed to stage the tournament. To
build them, the country used migrants working in exploitative and
dangerous conditions, according to exposed videos. Most of the
migrants who worked at the construction site, died due to inhuman
conditions. The image of Qatar needed to be urgently improved, and
the European Parliament was to be set up favorably towards this
country of the Persian Gulf. There were several issues on the
agenda, including a visa-free regime with the EU.
Operation 'Mezzo', or the biggest scandal in the history of the
European Parliament, began less than a year ago. Belgian secret
services raided the home of Antonio Panzeri, a former Italian
lawmaker in the European Parliament, and found a bag with 700,000
euros. Panzeri was unaware of the visit.
Investigation materials obtained by the German Der Spiegel news
magazine allow several meetings at the five star Sofitel Brussels
Europe to be restored. At that hotel, representatives of the Qatari
government met with Panzeri, who helped prepare a speech for them
at the meeting of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human
Rights in November 2022.
One such event was also attended by Francesco Giorgi, the
partner of ousted European Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili.
MEPs needed to make sure that Qatar implemented serious reforms.
Kaili has also publicly defended Qatar and criticized colleagues
The regular and long-term bribery of MEPs became known at the
end of December 2022. Following the arrest of her partner Giorgi
and ex-MEP Panzeri, Kaili tried to hide the evidence and denied any
wrongdoing. However, law enforcement officers found a suitcase with
cash hidden baby carriage. The MEPs have already voted to remove
Kaili from office, as immunity does not save an official if he/she
is caught red-handed.
Apart from Qatar, another country that has tried to buy
influence in European institutions is Morocco. Two thirds of the
country's foreign trade accounts for the EU. Morocco also wants to
garner political support in the conflict over Western Sahara, while
the EU is counting on the Moroccan government to prevent African
migrants from entering Europe.
Liaison with the Moroccan government each time took place
through different persons. Those involved knew that their actions
were illegal because they used a certain code during talks. Panzeri
later established an NGO called 'Fighting Impunity' to legalize
bribes. During interrogation, the group members admitted that they
also worked for Mauritania and Saudi Arabia.
So far, all corruption charges have been targeting a group of
social democrats. Investigators suspect two other parliamentarians
from this faction – Marc Tarabella and Andrea Cozzolino – of being
associates of Panzeri. In mid-February, parliament will have to
vote to lift their immunity at the request of the Belgian
At the end of December 2022, a group of social democrats removed
their political adviser from his post due to a corruption scandal.
This was done because there had been a serious breach in relation
to the ongoing investigation, which was promptly brought to the
attention of the Belgian police. The message doesn't mention the
name of the dismissed official, but Nekā personīga reveals that
this is to be a Latvian citizen Eldar Mammadov, who has worked in
the European Parliament for more than ten years.
Meanwhile, Mammadov opposed the official position of the faction
in favor of a resolution recognizing Russia as a sponsor of
terrorism. Some members of the faction also pointed to his special
stance towards the Iranian regime.
Mammadov is a part of the once influential Mammadov family in
Latvia: his father owned the Riga Bus Transportation, as well as
the Latvian Road Transport Administration for some period of
Born in Riga, Eldar Mammadov started his career in the Latvian
banking sector managing the Parex Bank's office in Azerbaijan.
Later, he served briefly at the embassy in Spain and then in
Washington. According to the unofficial source, Mammadov was
recalled from the US embassy for having too close ties with Iranian
representatives in the US.
Since 2000, Mammadov has participated in events organized by the
Baltijas Forums of the Harmony Party leader Janis Urbanovich. In
2014, he ran for the European Parliament elections on the Harmony
Party list, but was not elected.
MEP Nils Ushakov (Harmony) explains: 'Mammadov was not a member
of the Harmony Party, but we cooperated quite actively. He worked
in the European Parliament in 2008 or 2009. He served in the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, embassies, and then in the Parliament.
And it was quite logical that, participating in the elections to
the European Parliament, not being a party member, Mammadov was
also on the list.'
'Yes, if I'm not mistaken, we worked with a new team, and a
person who has worked in the European Parliament for more than 10
years in a leading position would be a good choice. But he didn't
participate in that time,' Ushakov replied, when asked if
Mammadov's candidacy to the Seimas [the unicameral parliament of
Lithuania] was also discussed.
Spanish media also points to Mammadov's close friendship with
MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, who heads the European
Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
The Socialists & Democrats group has two MEPs from Latvia – Nils
Ushakov and Andris Ameriks. None of them knows the reason why
Mammadov was removed from his duties.
“Can't say anything bad about Eldar Mammadov either, I just
don't have such information and knowledge,” said Ushakov.“We
didn't cooperate much at this stage, because he deals with foreign
affairs, and I'm working with the budget.'
'I have nothing to do with Qatar. Mammadov has been working in
the relevant group for a very long time. We have to wait for the
results of the investigation,' Ameriks stated.
Several parliamentary sources told Spanish-language outlets that
Mammadov most likely accepted an offer to spend his vacation in
Qatar watching World Cup football matches.