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Four detained in European Parliament corruption probe

Belgian authorities detained four people on Friday in Brussels during raids investigating possible corruption at the European Parliament and involving an unidentified Gulf state.

Belgian authorities detained four people on Friday in Brussels during raids investigating possible corruption at the European Parliament and involving an unidentified Gulf state.

The Belgian state prosecutor did not name the Gulf State in their statement. Le Soir, a Belgian newspaper, and Knack, a Belgian magazine, identified the state as Qatar.

According to the state prosecutor, Belgian police have suspected for several months that a Gulf state has tried to influence the political and economic decisions of the EU legislature.

The state prosecutor said this was attempted by offering large gifts or major sums of cash to persons in strategic or politically significant positions in the parliament.

The investigation was especially targeted at the parliamentary assistants of the EU legislators, according to the prosecutor’s statement.

The Belgian state prosecutor said the investigation focused on an alleged criminal organization, allegations of corruption and money laundering.

During sixteen searches across various Brussels localities authorities seized €600,000 ($633,000) in cash along with computer equipment and mobile phones. Investigators are to examine the seized items.

The four arrested persons are to be subject to questioning.

A former member of the parliament was questioned, the state prosecutor said. It is unclear from the statement if this former member was also arrested.

The European Parliament is one of four main decision-making institutions. The EU legislature is directly elected and approves the EU budget. The parliament does not initiate legislation, however.

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