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Belgium Discharges Morocco from Qatargate Affair for Lack of Evidence

Belgian justice officially withdrew on Saturday from the Moroccan part of the “Qatargate” affair as the investigation is no longer progressing, due to lack of evidence.

It is now up to Rabat to take over and shed light on this alleged corruption affair, unveiled in December 2022 and whose credibility is disputed.

While reports, at times contradictory, claim that MEPs are suspected of interfering on behalf of foreign powers in European Parliament (EP) decisions over several years in exchange for monetary payments, investigators have found no evidence against Morocco.

In June 2023, the Belgian judge overseeing the Qatargate affair cast doubt on the case’s overall credibility.

According to the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office, “elements have come to light” that “could raise certain questions as to the objective functioning of the investigation”.

At the center of the accusations was Marie Arena, a Socialist MEP named in the investigation but never questioned by the courts. In the meantime, she had resigned as chair of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Sub-Committee.

Lawyers for the MEPs named in the probe cited “the fragile reliability and legality of the investigative acts, but also the question of why the Arena lead was not exploited by the judge,” going so far as to allege “deliberate omissions.”

Both Rabat and Doha denied any involvement in the affair.

This political controversy involved charges that European Parliament officials, lobbyists, and their families were influenced by the government of Qatar and Mauritania, which were involved in corruption, money laundering, and organized crime. Belgian, Italian, and Greek officials seized 1.5 Mln Euro in cash, confiscated laptops and mobile phones, and accused four people of the alleged crimes.