Member of the European Parliament (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament - Parti Socialiste) Marie Arena (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


Qatargate: investigators search home of Belgian MEP Marie Arena


Belgian police searched six locations linked to Belgian MEP Marie Arena and her family on July 19, almost a year into the Qatargate investigation.

The raids happened in the presence of European Parliament president Roberta Metsola, as Belgium’s Constitution requires.

Arena said she was “in no way whatsoever implicated in this file” but added she felt she would also be questioned soon.

Socialist Party MEP Arena confirmed through her lawyer she was summoned to her home “for the visit of the investigating judge as part of the Qatargate investigation”.

The move came as Belgium’s federal public prosecutor is continuing an investigation into allegations Qatar’s Government paid bribes to influence European Parliament officials.

Police in Belgium, Italy and Greece have seized €1.5 million in cash and arrested four people, including European Parliament former vice-president Eva Kaili and Italian MEP Antonio Panzeri. All have been released pending court appearances.

With the alleged bribes, it is claimed Qatar sought to suppress criticism in the Parliament, while getting the body to criticise its regional adversaries, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, Egypt and Libya.

The investigation has widened to include alleged Mauritanian and Moroccan attempts to influence MEPs against Algeria.

Arena was closely linked to Panzeri and former Qatargate lead investigator Michel Claise, who stepped down from his role citing conflict of interest.

Before the scandal broke, she and Panzeri spoke by telephone nearly 400 times, investigators said.

On July 19, Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper published an Excel spreadsheet by Panzeri’s former parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgi that included 199 entries for “meetings and activities” between April 2018 and December 2022. Arena’s name appeared 14 times, alongside Kaili, Italian MEP Andrea Cozzolino and Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella.

Through her lawyer, Arena said: “I am confident that the investigation will confirm that I am not involved in this case in any way.”