EU lawmaker Cozzolino charged by Belgium in ‘Qatargate’ probe

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, according to Euractiv.

The socialist MEP, 60, flew into Belgium on Monday for questioning after being arrested four months ago in Italy on an international warrant.

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

He was released under supervision after being charged with “public corruption, (involvement in a) criminal organization and money laundering,” Belgium’s federal prosecutor said.

Cozzolino, a European parliamentarian for Italy’s center-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 organizations to influence decision-making in the EU assembly.

The Qatargate corruption scandal has rocked the European Parliament and pushed EU institutions to speed up reforms aimed at curbing outside influence.

The scandal erupted in December when Belgian police detained several political figures and uncovered over €1.5 million in cash during a string of raids.

Both Qatar and Morocco deny involvement in any corruption.

The Belgian investigation was buffeted Monday by a decision to replace a key judge overseeing the case for a potential conflict of interest.

Belgian media reported Michel Claise stepped down due to business links between his son and the son of an MEP whose name has figured in the probe.

The federal prosecutor has said it expects the investigation to be completed by the end of the year.