EU Prosecutor Seizes Money from an Italian MEP Suspected of Fraud
Two months after the eruption of a corruption scandal involving several members of the European Parliament (MEP), the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) said that it had confiscated more than 170,000 euros (US$181,323) from an Italian MEP as part of a fraud probe.
EPPO claimed it seized the funds, including bank accounts and luxury cars, from Stefania Zambelli and four of her assistants in Milan, as “part of an investigation into possible fraud involving parliamentary allowances.”
“The investigation, led by the EPPO and carried out by the Brescia [region] branch of the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza), concerns a suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, regarding the remuneration of four parliamentary assistants hired in Italy,” EPPO said in a statement.
It added that the evidence showed that the four staff members did not carry out the duties linked to the role for which they were engaged, or only carried them out partially, fraudulently reporting their actions to the European Parliament.
The probe also stated that Zambelli’s assistants falsified their qualifications, declaring educational and professional abilities that they did not possess.
“It is believed that the MEP [Zambelli], who is closely related to at least one of the people hired, also benefited from the sums paid by the European Parliament for the work activities that the staff should have performed,” EPPO said.
The EU public prosecution office was precise about the sum the EU budget was allegedly deprived of – 172,148.82 euros ($183,740.43) - but did not elaborate about what kind of measures could be taken against Zambelli and her assistants.
It only stated that the “judicial measures were issued based on the evidence gathered during the preliminary investigation,” and that the “persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Italian courts of law.”