Three arrested in EU bribery scandal

MILLIONS of euro in bribes changed hands in connection with tenders for European Commission buildings and security services, EU and Belgian authorities have revealed.

So far three Italians have been arrested and charged with fraud following an investigation into the leasing, furnishing and security equipment for commission offices in New Delhi, India and Tirana, Albania.

Further arrests may follow after police raided about 30 buildings in Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg that included the European Parliament and the commission headquarters earlier this week.

The three, who are due to appear before a magistrate in Brussels this morning, are the 60-year-old assistant to an Italian MEP, a 46-year-old commission civil servant involved in managing foreign infrastructure and a 36-year-old Italian businessman.

Jos Colpin, spokesperson for the Brussels prosecution service, said the fraud happened over a period of 10 years and the amounts of money were considerable.

“From what we have seen we believe the corruption involved tens of millions of euro and the bribes were worth several million euro.”

He said searches were carried out in the European Commission, the Parliament, banks, private offices and private homes in four countries, but he described Italy as the epicentre.

A large quantity of documents and computer files were seized by both the Belgian and Italian authorities and these were now being examined.

The main offences under Belgian law at this stage of the proceedings are corruption of an international civil servant, violation of professional secrecy, forgery and criminal conspiracy. The three could face up to 10 years in jail.

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