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Over $300,000 cash found at home of Belgian lawmaker’s son

Belgian authorities found €280,000 ($304,326) in cash while searching the home of lawmaker Maria Arena’s son as part of the European Parliament’s corruption probe, local media reported Tuesday.

Following a search of Arena’s home last month, authorities also searched the house and workplace of her 32-year-old son Ugo Lemaire, the Le Soir newspaper reported.

Authorities said they do not yet know the source of the money and they are investigating whether it is linked to previous corruption charges.

According to the report, Lemaire is among the founders of a company that sells legal cannabis.

Last month, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office announced that searches were conducted at six locations in Brussels, including Arena’s home.

Reports said the searches were part of a corruption investigation launched in December 2022, and some documents and devices such as computers were seized.

Arena, one of the Socialist members of the European Parliament (MEPs), has been frequently mentioned in the press due to her communication with former Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, the prime suspect in the corruption investigation.

Arena resigned from her position as chair of the European Parliament’s human rights subcommittee in January amid accusations by some journalists and colleagues.

Corruption scandal

The European Union has been shaken by one of the biggest corruption scandals in its history after Eva Kaili, a Greek member of the European Parliament, was arrested on Dec. 9 by Belgian police on corruption charges.

Kaili, 44, from Greece’s center-left PASOK-KINAL party and one of the European Parliament’s 14 vice presidents, was arrested after her home was searched on corruption charges allegedly involving Qatar, which was accused of paying Kaili to lobby for the Gulf state’s interests.

Up to €1.5 million in cash was also seized by Belgian police across dozens of home and office searches. Parliamentary computers were also confiscated to protect important data.

Those detained alongside Kaili included Panzeri, Kaili’s partner Francesco Giorgi, who worked as an assistant in the European Parliament, and Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, the director of a non-governmental organization working on the rule of law.

All those detained as part of the investigation were released on probation.

*Beyza Binnur Donmez contributed to this report from Geneva

Source: AA