By Samuel Petrequin And Lorne Cook in Brussels
BRUSSELS (AP) — A Greek European lawmaker charged with corruption in an alleged plot by a Gulf country that’s tarnishing EU institutions will stay in detention until at least next week after her hearing by a judge was postponed, judicial officials said on Wednesday.
Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili, whose term in office was terminated this week by fellow lawmakers, had been set to appear Wednesday before a judge in Brussels alongside three other people who have been arrested in connection with the case.
Kaili’s lawyer, André Risopoulos, said her hearing was rescheduled to Dec. 22. He declined to give further details. Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office confirmed the new date when a judge will decide whether to keep Kaili in custody, saying the postponement was at her request.
Police have now conducted more than 20 raids, mostly in Belgium but also in Italy, as part of a probe into alleged bribery for political favors. Prosecutors said in a statement they suspect that people “in political and/or strategic positions within the European Parliament were paid large sums of money or offered substantial gifts to influence Parliament’s decisions.”
Belgian authorities have not identified the Gulf country suspected of offering cash or gifts to officials at the European Parliament, but several members of the assembly and some Belgian media have linked the investigation to the soccer World Cup host, Qatar.
Prosecutors have charged four people, including Kaili, with corruption, participation in a criminal group and money laundering.
Two suspects, including Kaili’s partner, Francesco Giorgi, who is a parliamentary advisor, and Pier Antonio Panzeri, an former Parliament member and the founder of a non-profit campaign group, were kept in preventive detention Wednesday after their court hearing.
Prosecutors said Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, the secretary-general of another campaign group, will be allowed to leave his cell but placed under surveillance with an electronic monitoring bracelet. All three have 24 hours to appeal.
The two non-governmental organizations, Panzeri’s Fight Immunity and Figa-Talamanca’s No Peace Without Justice, share the same street address on prime real estate in the government and diplomatic quarter of Brussels. They have not responded to phone calls or emails, and no one answered the doorbell at the address.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said EU relations with any foreign country implicated would be affected if bribes were confirmed.
“Trying to influence our decision-making with bribery, if that would be confirmed that it is the case, that it is related to certain countries, I would not see how it would not have consequences in the relation,” he said. “First of all the mistake is with the persons that let themselves be bribed. Let’s be clear on that. But it’s not only them. There’s always two sides to this.”
While Qatar has arguably received some favorable reviews in Europe this year, establishing that European officials were paid off to provide them typically would be difficult. But investigators have seized hundreds of thousands of euros at the homes of officials, according to Belgian prosecutors.
De Croo added that the scandal is proof there is a need for “more scrutiny and more transparency in the European Parliament.”
“We are a partner of the president, Roberta Metsola, to improve the functioning and to bring more transparency and to really go to the bottom of the investigation that is taking place,” he said.
Moneris confirms credit and debit card processing outage, but offers few details
The Canadian payment processing firm Moneris confirmed Saturday that credit and debit card transactions were interrupted by a network outage earlier in the day.
The Toronto-based technology company issued a statement saying there was nothing to suggest the outage was related to a cyber attack.
Complaints about outages started rolling in to the Downdetector.ca website before noon eastern time, but Moneris did not say when the outage started.
About three hours later, Moneris posted a message on X — the social media site formerly known as Twitter — saying it had resolved the network problem.
It remains unclear how many businesses and transactions were affected, but data provided by Downdetector.ca indicated complaints had come in from across the country.
In a statement provided to The Canadian Press, the company said the outage lasted about 90 minutes.
“We have resolved the network outage and returned transaction processing to normal,” the statement said. “We continue to investigate the root cause of the issue. There are no indications this appears to be cyber-attack related and all transaction systems are functioning normally again.”
The company, a joint venture between Royal Bank and BMO Bank of Montreal, said transaction processing could be slow as its systems catch up with the backlog.
Moneris says it supports more than 325,000 merchant locations across Canada.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2024.
Smith says despite difficulty with Ottawa, Alberta has allies in Trudeau cabinet
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks to business leaders at the Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Smith told the conference that despite her concerns with the federal Liberal government there was some cabinet ministers she can work with. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
By Bill Graveland in Banff
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told a business conference on Friday that despite her concerns with the federal Liberal government, there are some cabinet ministers she can work with.
Smith has been at odds with federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson amid concerns over Ottawa’s climate-change policies and transition plan for a net-zero emissions economy.
Guilbeault intends to publish draft regulations this fall to cap emissions from oil and gas, then force them downward overtime. Ottawa has also set a target to have the electricity grid be net-zero by 2035, but Alberta says it’s unrealistic.
Smith says Alberta won’t implement the emissions cap, nor will it follow the 2035 target.
The premier told delegates at the Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., that Wilkinson needs to answer for comments he made earlier this week at the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary.
Wilkinson’s call for the industry to work aggressively to get to net-zero was basically telling them to “pack it up, because the oil and gas industry is winding down,” said Smith.
“You could just feel the energy leave the room and you could just feel the investment dollars leave the room.”
Smith said energy producing provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, can’t trust the Trudeau government to look out for their interests at international conferences.
“After hearing how the natural resources minister talks about our industry, after hearing how the federal environment minister talks about our industry, we can’t afford to let them carry our message,” Smith said.
“We can’t afford not to be there.”
Smith said she has been in discussions with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and intends to talk to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey about joint presentations at conferences in the future.
Despite her disappointment with Wilkinson and Guilbeault, Smith said it’s not all bad.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland among the top allies, she said.
“Let’s give her credit for shepherding through all of the constant need to give more debt financing to Trans Mountain pipeline to get that to the finish line. That has not been easy,” Smith said.
She also praised Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan and Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault.
“I would say it’s not uniformly negative in the Liberal caucus. But for some reason they’re allowing Stephen Guilbeault to be a maverick and a renegade and quite offensive to those of who are trying to be reasonable and adult about this,” Smith said.
Smith said it’s time for the federal government to back away from setting “aggressive targets” in dealing with the provinces.
“Aggressive targets are not helpful. They’re not helpful to us. They’re not helpful to investors.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.
CP NewsAlert: Unifor autoworkers in strike position as Ford contract expires
Hundreds of flying taxis to be made in Ohio, home of the Wright brothers and astronaut legends
Ontario court dismisses sex workers’ Charter challenge, rules laws constitutional
Backlog of air passenger complaints tops 57,000, hitting new peak
Pastor gets 60-day sentence for role in Alberta border blockade
Grocery CEOs meet with ministers, agree to work to stabilize food prices
Canada’s inflation rate reaches four per cent in August: StatCan
Top Story CP2 days ago
Man charged with first degree murder in shooting death of B.C. RCMP officer
Brownstone Institute2 days ago
The Covid Narrative Flunked the Critical Thinking Test
Business1 day ago
Moneris confirms credit and debit card processing outage, but offers few details
illegal immigration1 day ago
Migrants hoping to reach US continue north through Mexico by train amid historic migration levels
Brownstone Institute23 hours ago
The Great Demoralization
Alberta21 hours ago
Hot rental market makes search ‘stressful’ for many — and it won’t get better soon
Top Story CP19 hours ago
Ford workers in Canada ratify agreement, set precedent for other automakers