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Suspect in EU graft probe to cooperate with Belgian authorities - prosecutor

Suspect in EU graft probe to cooperate with Belgian authorities - prosecutor
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By Reuters
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By Marine Strauss and Charlotte Van Campenhout

BRUSSELS - Belgium's federal prosecutor said on Tuesday that former Italian member of the European Parliament Pier Antonio Panzeri agreed to work with Belgian authorities over a cash-for-influence corruption scandal in exchange for a reduced sentence.

The prosecutor said in a statement Panzeri signed a "repentance agreement", where he commits to make "substantial, revealing, truthful and complete statements" about parties involved, and crimes committed, in the case.

In particular, he will inform investigators about how the operations were conducted, the financial arrangements with other involved countries, the financial structures that were set up, including their stakeholders and benefits, the involvement of known and unknown people within the investigation, including the identity of the individuals he admits to having bribed.

His sentence will include prison time, a fine and the confiscation of all assets acquired, estimated at one million eruos ($1.08 million).

Prosecutors said it is the second time in Belgian legal history that these proceedings have resulted in the signing of a memorandum.

The European Parliament on Monday began a month-long procedure to waive immunity from prosecution for two lawmakers.

EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola told the assembly in Strasbourg that Belgium had requested immunity be lifted for Italian Andrea Cozzolino and Belgian Marc Tarabella, both of the centre-left Socialists and Democrats.

Panzeri, Greek EU lawmaker Eva Kaili, along with two others are currently in Belgian custody facing charges of corruption, money laundering in relation to alleged payments from Qatar and Morocco.

($1 = 0.9260 euros)

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