Qatargate investigation expanded, police questions MEP Maria Arena

The police have expanded the scope of the investigation into allegations of corruption in the European Parliament by including another politician - the Belgian socialist MEP Maria Arena.
More than a year after the so-called Qatargate scandal, Belgian detectives first questioned Arena as a suspect, according to federal prosecutors' spokesman Eric Van Duys.
For months, Arena's name had been linked to other suspects involved in the alleged corruption ring, but her own involvement remained a mystery. From the beginning, the Belgian MP denied that she had committed any criminal acts.
Police had so far not questioned her, despite gathering information about her ties to Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former MEP who struck a deal with prosecutors and admitted taking money from Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania in exchange for political favors in the Parliament of EU.
Neither Arena nor her attorney responded to Politico's request for comment.
"Don't take yourself out of the game, because if you're in the game, then I'll make more money," Panseri told Arena in August 2022 over lunch at the now-defunct Salvarino pizzeria in Brussels, according to police.
Last summer, authorities raided the Arena properties in Brussels in the presence of European Parliament President Roberta Mezzola, finding a large sum of money in the apartment of one of her sons. However, this is not directly related to the Qatargate investigation.
Arena is a member of the Group of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and of the Belgian Socialist Party.
An EU official said there had been no request from Belgian authorities to waive her immunity, a prerequisite for police to arrest her.
Three other MEPs - Eva Kylie, Andrea Cozzolino and Mark Tarabella - have been charged in the investigation. Lawyers for the suspects say there are serious problems with the way the Belgians conducted the investigation.
"We do not comment on ongoing legal investigations," a spokesman for the Social Democrats said. /BGNES