Pier Antonio Panzeri and his family expected to welcome the new year in a five-star hotel in Marrakesh, allegedly paid for by the Moroccan government. Instead the former Italian lawmaker, his wife and daughter, spent it under arrest.
Panzeri has emerged as a central figure in the corruption probe that shocked the Brussels establishment in December when Belgian police raided the premises of the European parliament and seized more than €1.5mn in cash at Panzeri and two other suspects’ houses.
Qatar, prosecutors believe, used Panzeri and his network to improve its image in Brussels ahead of the Fifa World Cup. But the 67-year-old Italian was not new to the game: investigators suspect he had been receiving bribes and gifts from Moroccan officials for over a decade in return for influencing EU policy.