EU lawmaker Cozzolino charged by Belgium in ‘Qatargate’ probe

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union lawmaker Andrea Cozzolino, under investigation in a cash-for-influence corruption scandal at the European Parliament dubbed “Qatargate”, has been extradited to Belgium and charged, the Belgian prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday.

Cozzolino had been charged with public corruption, criminal organization and money laundering, it said, adding he was then released under “certain conditions” pending further inquiries.

Cozzolino, a European parliamentarian for Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party, has denied any wrongdoing. Last month, Italy had agreed to extradite him to Belgium.

The scandal, the biggest to rock European Union politics in decades, hinges on suspicions that Qatar and Morocco bribed politicians, parliamentary assistants and non-governmental organisations to influence decision-making in the EU assembly.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)