Transparency International – The week in corruption

16/12/2022: Eye on the ball

For years, controversy has surrounded FIFA’s choice of the 2022 World Cup host. Thanks to new Qatargate revelations, scathing headlines will haunt this year’s World Cup well after the final showdown between Argentina and France this weekend.

Last Friday, allegations emerged that the Qatari government has bribed current and former members of the European Parliament and their staff to tone down criticism in the lead-up to the prestigious tournament and win other favours.
European Parliament’s Bureau met without Eva Kaili, who has been implicated in the Qatargate scandal, on 12 December. Photo: Daina Le Lardic/European Parliament

Belgian authorities have already conducted 20 raids, seized 1.5 million euros in cash and arrested four people – including Eva Kaili, now-former Vice President of the European Parliament. If corruption allegations are true, they would explain why last month Kaili praised Qatar’s progress on labour rights despite well-documented abuses.

The Qatari government has rejected accusations, and so has Eva Kaili. But authorities have reportedly obtained a confession from Kaili’s partner, who works at the European Parliament and is among those detained.

The scandal has shaken the EU to its core. Yesterday, the European Parliament suspended Qatari representatives’ access to its premises and halted all Qatar-related pending legislation.

But that’s not enough, especially as fresh revelations suggest that other countries may have also sought to buy influence in the European Parliament. Transparency International EU has called for wide-ranging reform, including for the EU to finally establish an independent ethics body with investigative powers.

From allegations of bribery to secure hosting rights to paying off EU lawmakers to launder reputation, corruption has come full circle in the Qatari-hosted 2022 World Cup. This debacle is an important reminder of how corruption is present in every part of public life and requires our collective resolve to counter it.

The good news is that the anti-corruption community is becoming stronger and gaining new allies with every passing day. Last week, we had the privilege of bringing together more than 2,000 anti-corruption fighters in Washington, D.C. – while more than 1,000 tuned in virtually – for the 20th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC).
Transparency International’s Vice Chair Rueben Lifuka addresses IACC delegates at the opening ceremony. Photo: Javier Villaraco/Transparency International

Among other things, delegates zeroed in on ways to fight the type of corruption that has undermined global security and democracy worldwide: kleptocracy. In a year like this, when the need for advanced economies to end their complicity in transnational corruption has become more apparent than ever, we were pleased to hear strong commitments to fight globalised corruption from our co-host the U.S. government. There were plenty of other highlights too – just take a look at what participants had to say on social media.  

Thanks to the energising IACC, our movement is more ready than ever to take on corruption in the next year – from pushing for political integrity in the EU to stopping kleptocrats worldwide.

Bring it on, 2023.

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