The police search the headquarters of the European People's Party in Brussels for a case of corruption | International

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Belgian and German police agents have carried out a search on Tuesday at the offices of the European People's Party (EPP) in Brussels, as confirmed by the conservative formation itself, led by the German Manfred Weber. The investigation is linked to an alleged case of corruption of the current leader of the conservative CDU party in Thuringia, Mario Voigt, which would have occurred during his stay in Brussels to work on the EPP campaign for the 2019 European elections. In fact, according to German media, would have been hired as head of the digital campaign by Weber himself. The new investigation, which occurs when the scandal of the Qatargatewhich for the moment has affected the European social democrats above all, threatens to shake once again the political forces of the EU, this time the conservative ones, just one year before the new elections to the European Parliament.

The PPE has limited itself to confirming, in a brief statement, that "representatives of the Belgian and German police authorities visited the headquarters of the party in Brussels" early in the morning. "The visit is related to an ongoing investigation in Thuringia, Germany," adds the official information from the conservatives, which ensures that the formation "is cooperating with total transparency" with the authorities, providing "all the information and documentation relevant”.

According to the Euroactiv chain, the agents seized computers related to "financial irregularities" investigated in Thuringia. There, the authorities have been investigating since last year the current CDU leader in the regional parliament, Mario Voigt, who worked in Brussels brought by Weber, from the CDU's Bavarian partner, the CSU, according to German broadcaster MDR. PPE sources limit themselves to indicating that it is "a matter between a contractor who worked for the PPE during the 2019 campaign and one of his subcontractors in Germany."

Voigt's name made headlines in Germany in September 2022, when it became known that the anti-corruption prosecutor was investigating him for possible corruption in commercial transactions.

The search of the PPE offices on rue du Commerce, a few hundred meters from the Eurochamber, promises to once again shake the waters of the Belgian capital when there is only one year left for the new European elections. At the May 2024 meeting, the popular groups led by Weber aspire to continue being the majority group, something that allows them to have, at this time, two of the highest European leaders, the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and that of the European Commission, the also German (and CDU) Ursula von der Leyen.

The news of the police search comes to cast a shadow over a day of celebration for European conservatives after the victory of the right in Finland, which gave them hope of maintaining their strength in Brussels. Weber is also strongly supporting the candidacy of the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, in Spain, one of the countries that the popular Europeans most yearn to govern again.

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This potential new scandal is known when the Qatargate, the plot of alleged bribes to MEPs and other high-ranking European figures by countries such as Qatar or Morocco. He Qatargate For the moment, it has affected, above all, the progressives of S&D, led by the Spanish Iratxe García: all the MEPs and former parliamentarians charged so far, from the alleged ringleader of the plot, the former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, to the most responsible person arrested , the former vice president of the European Parliament Eva Kaili, were part of the European Social Democratic Party.

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