Belgian prosecutors raid EU lawmaker’s house in ‘Qatargate’ investigation

By Charlotte Van Campenhout

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgian police on Wednesday raided the home of EU lawmaker Marie Arena as part of an investigation into a cash-for-influence corruption scandal at the European Parliament, dubbed ‘Qatargate’, Belgian prosecutors said.

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.

Qatar has denied wrongdoing. Morocco has complained of “judicial harassment” after the graft probe.

Besides Arena’s home, police searched five other locations all “directly or indirectly linked to (Arena) or her family”, prosecutors said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Arena’s lawyer referred Reuters to comments made to Belgian press agency Belga, where Arena said that she is at the disposal of the investigating judge.

“I am convinced that the investigation will confirm that I am not involved in any way in this file. I will probably be heard in the coming weeks, after the holidays,” Arena told Belga, via her lawyer.

(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Emma Rumney)