Guy Verhofstadt maintains good relations with leftist MEP Eva"Qatargate" Kaili
One only needs to browse the net for a short while to realise that Guy Verhofstadt, a politician known for using taxpayers' money for his own purposes and working towards American interests, maintains a good relationship with Eva Kaili, a left-wing MEP.
An EU body full of loopholes
The left-wing corruption scandal, commonly dubbed the “Qatargate,” has shaken people’s trust in the European Parliament to its very foundations. As is known, Belgian authorities have detained five people on suspicion of participation in a criminal organisation, money laundering and corruption, and seized one and a half million euros in cash. Among them, Greek politician Eva Kaili attracts much of the attention for her involvement in the graft as vice-president of the European Parliament. Although no names were given as to who was striving to gain influence by buying off Brussels politicians and bureaucrats, Qatar’s being in the background is basically treated as a fact by Western media.
Apparently, however, this came as no surprise to some transparency campaigners.
“Parliament is easily accessible and it has become an attractive ground for all kinds of lobbyists. Because of this, it is relatively easy to operate under the radar and not get caught,”
said Michiel van Hulten, the head of Transparency International and a former EU lawmaker himself. Watchdogs have been reiterating for years that the European Parliament protects European public funds with an extremely weak safety net that allows for EU taxpayers’ money to be taken out practically unnoticed through the huge holes. MEPs have resisted calls to report all their meetings with outside lobbyists. It’s only required for committee heads and rapporteurs, although in many cases nothing happens if they “forget” to report on a meeting or two, Transparency International points out.
During the 2014 to 2019 term, an advisory panel determined that 24 MEPs had breached the EP’s code of conduct, with violations including the misappropriation of funds. In the end, however, no MEPs were formally sanctioned, and even if they had been, the maximum punishment would have been to rescind part of their pay for 30 days.
Morocco also appears on corruption map
In addition to Qatar, Belgian authorities are also scrutinizing relations with Morocco, said a government official familiar with the issue. In the same way as Qatar is suspected of trying to gain serious influence in EU decision-making in exchange for money, Morocco could have just as easily made attempts to line the pockets of left-wing leaders of the body. Politico highlights that
in July 2014, King Mohammed VI of Morocco awarded a royal decoration to Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former Italian member of the European Parliament, who is now under arrest. The left-wing politician is assumed to have received money from the Moroccan secret service to influence matters favourably. A certain Abderrahim Atmoun, the co-president of the EU-Morocco joint parliamentary committee, was another award recipient at the time.
Not very long ago, in 2018, Guy Verhofstadt also enjoyed Morocco’s hospitality and perhaps by no coincidence, in the company of left-wing MEP Eva “Qatargate” Kaili, as evidenced by a photo taken at a conference.
#KasbahTamadot: 1st panel of Day 1 – Re-Imagining Institutions @TomicahTD @NewAmerica @EvaKaili Jim Newsome Jason Weinstein Annette Nazareth Guy Verhofstadt #BlockchainSummit @BitfuryGeorge @ACTAIglobal @richardbranson pic.twitter.com/3j7fyRM5Em
— Sandra Ro (@srolondon) July 8, 2018
At these meetings, the big shots of so-called blockchain technology – first developed for cryptocurrencies – bring together various companies, government agencies and start-ups to discuss the most pressing issues of innovation, economic growth and the development of blockchain and digital technologies.
As expected, these meetings are also attended by lobbyists from the tech world.
By the way, Morocco is regarded as a country with high corruption rates. Transparency International gave rather poor scores to Morocco between 2012 and 2019, effectively putting the African country in the second worst corruption category.
He brazenly uses public money for his own goals
Belgian liberal politician Guy Verhofstadt is not a fan of transparency. Recently, V4NA pulled the lid off the MP’s secret financial affairs. The former prime minister of Belgium and MEP of the liberal Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, lives in a beautifully renovated 17th-century riverside heritage building in downtown Ghent. He is constantly campaigning for even tougher sanctions, while he’s telling people to grit their teeth and endure the crisis. Meanwhile, as it turned out, the liberal MEP halved his own expenses by receiving hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds to renovate his home back in 2012. According to the report by Knack,
the renovation costs of the Verhofstadt residence were estimated at roughly 820,000 euros, but nearly half of this was paid for by Belgian taxpayers.
For the renovation, the ex-PM received significant support from the Flemish government, the province of East Flanders and the city of Ghent, totalling 327,784 euros, according to information published by by Knack news portal. V4NA visited the liberal politician’s luxurious residence.
Verhofstadt’s name would crop up even in the notorious Paradise Papers.
The database containing more than 13 million documents, which was made public in 2017, revealed that the liberal politician was a member of the board of a shipping company – for 60 thousand euros a year – which tried to evade paying taxes through an offshore company. The case swelled into a bigger scandal and, for example, the chairman of the Belgian Labour Party, Peter Mertrens, also criticized Verhofstadt, pointing out that he simply had to know about the satellite company registered in Bermuda.
Instead of taking responsibility, Verhofstadt had the matter downplayed and smoothed over by his press chief, who came up with the strange explanation that Exmar Offshore is not actually an offshore company, and that its name only features the word “offshore” because the company, quite literally, deals with off the shore (i.e. coastal) coastal activities.
A year later, Verhofstadt and his various side incomes, which may have earned him several times the amount of his salary as an MEP, also caught the attention of international press and media outlets. Following the research of Transparency International, Le Soir reported that the Belgian politician was able to pocket nearly one and a half million euros in addition to his monthly salary of 13,000 euros in the previous EP term.
Transparency International also emphasized that a conflict of interest can easily arise if the representative accepts money from companies that are also on the EU’s official list of lobbyists.
The liberal politician also lobbies for the interests of oligarchs. In particular, he has a close relationship with Nicolas Boell, who owns Sofina holding, which also owns GdF Suez. Shortly after the latter company wanted to acquire the Thessaloniki waterworks in Greece in 2014, Verhofstadt demanded the privatization package from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the European Parliament. At the same time, Verhofstadt was also a member of the board of the APG pension fund, and after his speech attacking Tsipras and Greece, three Greek ministers met with the leaders of APG within six months.
But Mr Verhofstadt and his circles may have also received handsome amounts from certain US and Swiss companies. George Soros’s reliable party group had previously received funding from giant multinational corporations such as Monsanto, Microsoft, Google, Uber, Syngenta and Walt Disney. However, some of these mammoths are not registered in EU member states, but, for example, in the US, Switzerland or various islands serving as tax havens.
This means that non-European Union companies and oligarchs were allowed to interfere in the EP elections, and it is obvious that American companies financed the liberal party group not merely out of sheer goodwill.