Home » New details of corruption scandal in the European Parliament have appeared – a Latvian ex-diplomat is also involved
Crime Diplomatics European Parliament Featured Global News News

New details of corruption scandal in the European Parliament have appeared – a Latvian ex-diplomat is also involved


BAKU, Azerbaijan, Oct. 21 Corruption scandal in the European Parliament is growing. The Belgian police confiscated one and a half million euros in cash, which were also found in the possession of members of the EP. Evidence was obtained that the governments of Qatar and Morocco paid officials to influence European Union institutions in favor of these countries. According to the TV3 program Nekā personīga, former Latvian diplomat Eldar Mammadov is also involved in the Brussels scandal.

The arrested leader of the group confessed to the crimes and is ready to name all those bribed in parliament. Currently, Mammadov has been suspended from his duties and, while the investigation is ongoing, does not comment on his involvement in the incident.

Before the World Cup, Qatar was criticized a lot. Video footage emerged that the stadiums intended for the championship were built by guest workers working in slave conditions. Many died at the construction site due to inhuman conditions. The image of Qatar needed to be urgently improved, and the European Parliament needed 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 EP, began less than a year ago. Secret services found 400,000 euros in cash in a suitcase under a bed in the home of former MP Pierre Antonio Panseri in Brussels. The same amount is in the home safe. Panseri was unaware of the secret visit, and his subsequent meetings and conversations were monitored and recorded by Belgian interrogators.

Investigation materials obtained by the influential publication Der Spiegel allow several meetings at the five-star Sofitel Place Jourdan to be restored. There, representatives of the Qatari government met with Panseri, who helped prepare a speech for them at the meeting of the EP subcommittee on human rights last November.

One such event was also attended by Francesco Giorgi, cohabitant of EP Vice-President Eva Kaili, assistant to one of the parliamentarians. MPs needed to make sure that Qatar carried out serious reforms. Kylie has also publicly defended Qatar and criticized colleagues for hypocrisy.

The regular and long-term bribery of MEPs became known at the end of December last year. After learning about the search and arrest of a roommate and Panseri, Kylie tried to hide the evidence. However, law enforcement officers found a suitcase with cash hidden in a pram. The deputies have already voted to remove Kylie from office, as immunity does not save the official if he 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 is with 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.

Communication with the Moroccan government each time took place through different persons. Those involved knew that their actions were illegal because they used code words – when they went for money, talked about taking a suit or tie. Panseri later created an NGO called Fighting Impunity to legalize bribes. During interrogation, members of the group admitted that they also worked for Mauritania and Saudi Arabia.

So far, all accusations of corruption have been directed against a group of social democrats. Investigators consider two other parliamentarians from this faction – Mark Tarabella and Andrea Cozzolino – associates of Panseri. In mid-February, parliament will have to vote to lift their immunity at the request of the Belgian investigating authorities.

At the end of December, 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 connection with the ongoing investigation, which was promptly brought to the attention of the Belgian police. The message does not mention the name of the dismissed official, but Nekā personīga is known to be a Latvian citizen, Eldar Mammadov, who has worked in the European Parliament for more than ten years.

Mammadov was a political adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee and one of those who urged the Social Democratic faction to take a lenient stance towards Qatar. He also opposed the official position of the faction in support 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.

Eldar is a member of the once influential Mamedov family in Latvia: his father owned the Riga Sanitary and Transport Bus Base, and at one time also the Latvian Road Administration. Both companies were involved in large and dubious state and municipal purchases.

Born in Riga, Eldar Mammadov started his career in the Latvian banking sector managing the office of Parex Bank in Azerbaijan. He then experienced a meteoric rise in his career at the Foreign Office, briefly serving at the embassy in Spain and then in Washington, USA. According to unofficial information, Mammadov was recalled from the US embassy for having too close ties with Iranian representatives in America.

Since 2000, Mammadov has been a frequent participant in events organized by the association Baltijas Forums of the leader of the Harmony party Janis Urbanovich. In 2014, he ran for the European Parliament elections on the “Consent” list, but was not elected.

EP MP Nil Ushakov (Consent) explains: “Mamedov was not a member of Consent, but we cooperated quite actively. He worked in the EP in 2008 or 2009. He has an excellent resume for Latvian conditions, worked in the Foreign Ministry, embassies, then to the EP. And it was quite logical and natural that, participating in the elections to the European Parliament, not being a member of the party, Eldar Mammadov was also on the list.”

When asked if Mammadov’s candidacy for elections to the Seimas was also discussed, Ushakov replies: “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 completely leading position would be a good choice. But in that time he did not participate.

Spanish media also point to Mammadov’s close friendship with MP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, who heads the parliamentary committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs.

The group of Social Democrats in the European Parliament has two deputies from Latvia – Nil Ushakov and Andris Ameriks. Neither one nor the other knows the circumstances under which Mammadov was removed from his duties.

“I can’t say anything bad about Eldar Mamedov either, I just don’t have such information and knowledge,” says Ushakov. “We didn’t cooperate much at this stage of the EP, because he works with foreign affairs, and I work with the budget, us just different topics.”

MEP Andris Ameriks says: “I have nothing to do with Qatar. Mammadov has been working in the relevant group for a very long time. I have no connection with him. We must wait for the results of the investigation.”

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.

Source: Trend News Agency