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European Parliament Head Plans Firewalls Against Corruption


(Bloomberg) — The European Parliament will build “firewalls” and “ring alarm bells earlier” to prevent cases of corruption like the one involving allegations of bribes being paid to lawmakers related to Qatar and Morocco, its head said.

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“What I want to make sure is that whoever is in this house even being tempted to do that will know that the measures we are putting in place are ones that will deter,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said in an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg TV. “They will get caught.”

Metsola who promised to shake up the parliament and reform it when she was elected a year ago, is facing a massive corruption case that could still spread beyond those already arrested, who include former parliament vice president Eva Kaili.

In December, Belgian police investigating possible interference by a foreign government in the EU’s decision-making arrested Kaili, her Italian partner Francesco Giorgi and former European Parliament member Pier Antonio Panzeri. They were charged with being part of a criminal organization, money laundering and corruption. Panzeri has since agreed to reveal details of who he bribed and how the corruption scheme worked, including the involvement of other countries, in exchange for a reduced jail term.

The European Parliament has begun the process to strip two other lawmakers of their immunity after receiving a request from Belgian prosecutors.

Metsola said that the parliament hasn’t received any additional requests from the Belgian authorities, adding that “the minute we receive a request, we observe it and we execute it.”

The scandal has spurred a raft of new rules aimed at shedding more light on the work of lawmakers and their contacts with foreign powers, lobbyists and other outsiders.

Members of the assembly on Wednesday voted to install Marc Angel to replace Kaili as one of parliament’s 14 vice presidents.

–With assistance from Max Ramsay.

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